Zubiri: Senators back giving general public access to 2nd booster dose

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
Zubiri: Senators back giving general public access to 2nd booster dose
A health worker prepares to administer the Sinovac vaccine against the COVID-19 at Pinyahan Elementary School in Quezon City on April, 14, 2021.
The STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — Most members of the Senate back giving the general public access to second booster shots against COVID-19, especially as doses are due to reach their expiry dates unused, Senate President Juan Miguel "Migz" Zubiri said Wednesday.  

At a briefing with reporters Wednesday morning, Zubiri said that the Senate supports President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.'s directive to no longer impose lockdowns.

This came after the Senate held a ceremonial booster vaccination of its employees. Zubiri said that some 99% of Senate employees have already received their primary booster series thus far.

"It should be open the access to vaccines so as long as the one giving the vaccines has a checklist...we want to make sure it is closely monitored by a healthcare practitioners. We still need legal guidelines," he said. 

Zubiri himself urged continued vaccination to avoid lockdowns in the future, adding that legislators would be meeting with the Department of Health next week to discuss calls to amend the vaccination law and extend its validity.

Can such an amendment actually happen? The Senate president said this was "possible," adding that the Senate shouldn't take long to change dates in the original law.

At a press briefing on Tuesday, Department of Health officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeir sounded the alarm over what she said was 6.6% vaccine wastage.

Zubiri said he also supports the creation of a virology institute and the country's own Centers for Disease Control to address emerging diseases like COVID-19 and monkeypox. Marcos pitched the creation of these in his State of the Nation Address in July.

RELATED: These are the 19 measures Marcos Jr. asked Congress to pass

"We are a very reactive and proactive Senate; we want to make sure the people will benefit from our laws. We have to learn to live with it...I think that is the way we're going, that is the future of fighting this COVID," he said in mixed Filipino and English. 

Also on Wednesday, independent pandemic monitor OCTA Research said it projects the peak of the ongoing COVID-19 surge in Metro Manila to come sometime within the coming week after the one-week growth rate in the capital region decreased to 5 percent from 14 percent on August 3 and down from 21 percent growth on July 26. 

"This once again gives us hope tyhat the peak of the wave in the NCR may occur by next week [but with] no guarantees, of course...The trends need to be consistent for about a week before we can confidently say there is a downward trend," OCTA fellow Guido David said in a tweet advisory later Wednesday afternoon. 

Zubiri at the press briefing Wednesday also said that while the recent string of senators testing positive of late, including Sens. Imee Marcos and Cynthia Villar, is alarming, the silver lining is that all the positive cases recorded so far have not been severe.




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