It is only through a “very high level of vaccination rate” if a nation wants to have a strong “wall of immunity” that could prevent transmission and avoid the repeated infection peaks observed during the pandemic. This is what the Mayo Clinic advised nations around the world who have experienced high Covid infection rates from time to time. After all, science has only one answer if we want to maintain this wall of immunity — vaccination.

But at the rate the country is going with regards to boosters, our wall of immunity may see some cracks. The Department of Health (DOH) “PinasLakas” campaign, sadly, has been struggling to keep the inoculation rates at its expected levels, with some experts seeing a further dip in the number of booster uptake in the coming days.

Amid the scenario, it should be clear that the government was not remiss in reminding Filipinos, again and again, to get their booster shots. In fact, even the President sounded off this message in almost all his public addresses, raising on the national stage the alarming low booster inoculation even among the vulnerable. DOH data last Aug. 11, 2022 revealed that only 16.7 million Filipinos had availed of the first booster, with only a paltry 1.7 million receiving their second booster shot.

It could be recalled that last month, when President Marcos had a virtual meeting with governors and mayors who flocked to Malacañang, his message to the LGUs revolved around the importance of building a wall of immunity and moving on from the pandemic.

“I hope that you will be part of the effort to bring us back to normal. Let’s do this booster rollout so that there will be no more lockdowns,” the President said, noting that this is imperative considering that face-to-face classes will soon open. “If there will be a successful booster acceptance, we may remove some restrictions and hasten the full opening of the economy.”

This “removal of restrictions” was also reiterated by DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire. She said that some Covid-19 restrictions could be lifted if the country is able to fortify its wall of immunity through vaccination.

“This was a directive from the President. He said our country can ease restrictions only if the rate of vaccination increases,” Vergeire said. “And for us to increase the wall of immunity, at least 80 percent of the eligible population should already have their first booster shot.” This 80 percent, she said, is around 47 million persons. It seems that we have a long way to go.

At this point, the government should realize that some Filipinos are not keen to follow “pleadings” or “appeals to emotion.” It might take a system of reward and punishment for some to comply. One is easy to implement, for example — an individual can’t enter a mall or restaurant without showing proof of a booster shot. This might be a radical move and critics might say that this impedes on personal freedom. But our country can’t afford to dilly-dally on this matter; if we drop the ball again, everyone loses, whether you are boosted or not.