Senator Sonny Angara on Wednesday urged the government to consider the private sector’s call for booster shots for employees noting there is already a steady supply of COVID-19 vaccines in the Philippines.
Angara, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee and primary sponsor of the COVID-19 Vaccination Program Act, said he supports the call of the private sector to provide booster shots for its employees, after 26 business groups have requested to be allowed access to their “large stockpile” of vaccines.
The senator said the appeal of the private sector is reasonable, especially since there are numerous reports of vaccines that are about to expire in different areas in the country.
“The country now has a steady supply of vaccines and the volume will continue to increase over the next few months. The private sector played a huge part in making this happen with its purchases in parallel with the government’s own,” Angara said in a statement.
“We understand that there is still a huge portion of our adult population that remains unvaccinated. We reiterate our call for all Filipinos to get these life-saving vaccines,” he stressed.
“But when we have a situation where vaccines are available and are about to expire, then we should consider the call of the private sector, who are prepared to use them right away,” he added.
Galvez had earlier rejected the call of the private sector citing the need to assert the government’s “moral and mandatory” obligation to prioritize the vaccination of Filipinos who have not received a single dose.
But Angara said if booster shots can provide workers greater protection against the COVID-19, then the government should reconsider.
He noted how businesses, big and small, have all been affected by the pandemic over the past year and a half due to state-imposed lockdowns, restrictions on mobility and strict regulation on operations.
“A lot of data has already been made available regarding the administration of booster shots to vaccinated individuals. If this will give our workforce greater protection against COVID-19, then this should be considered,” he said.
He said the Department of Health (DOH) and vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. should have an idea of the current supply of vaccines.
“If there is enough to accommodate the request of the private sector, then this should be done as soon as possible,” Angara reiterated.