By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go has urged the
government to prepare and plan for the possible procurement of
COVID-19 booster shots in the near future, but said that the priority
for now should be on vaccinating the unvaccinated.
“Bukas po tayo sa posibilidad na sa hinaharap, baka kailanganin nating
magbigay ng COVID-19 booster shots upang masigurong protektado ang
ating mga kababayan laban sa virus,” said Go.
“Ngunit prayoridad po natin sa ngayon ang siguruhin munang bakunado
ang mga Pilipino ayon sa ating vaccine guidelines,” he added.
The senator said that there is PhP45.4 billion in the Unprogrammed
Fund for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccine booster shots, and that
more assessments must be done to ensure that they are procured
efficiently when needed. The Department of Health and the Inter-Agency
Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases is currently studying the
possibility of giving booster shots to healthcare workers in the near
“Importanteng paghandaan na natin ito. Baka kailanganin natin ng
booster lalo na dahil sa mga naglalabasang variants,” said Go during
the deliberation of the 2022 budget of the DOH on October 13.
“Dapat din natin masiguro… na may sapat na pondo para sa mga
vaccinators dahil tuluy-tuloy ang pagbabakuna natin hanggang sa
susunod na taon. Napansin ko na sa kalagitnaan ng taon naghanap pa
sila ng pondo para dito,” he added.
Although Health Secretary Francisco Duque III supports administering
COVID-19 booster doses to healthcare personnel in the future, he
believes that a bigger percentage of the country’s population must be
Go further mentioned that vaccination coverage outside of Metro Manila
needs to be fast-tracked further. Seniors and those with comorbidities
who haven’t been vaccinated should be prioritized before providing
booster shots to others, as these seniors and persons with
comorbidities are more susceptible to the severe form of COVID-19.
Meanwhile, during a hearing on the DOH’s proposed budget, Go
emphasized the importance of ensuring that sufficient funds are
available to continue and expand efforts to combat the COVID-19
Go, who serves as Chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Vice
Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance particularly called for the
inclusion of additional resources to ensure the continuous provision
of allowances for the country’s HCWs.
“Sa ating laban kontra COVID-19, isa sa pinaka-importante na dapat
nating masigurado ay ang kapakanan ng ating healthcare workers. Sabi
ko nga, hindi naman mababayaran ng kahit anuman ang buhay (nila),
ngunit mahalaga ito bilang pagkilala sa sakripisyo ng ating mga
healthcare workers para sa ating bayan,” he said.
Go reaffirmed his call for the approval of a bill he authored and
co-sponsored that would give HCWs a fixed monthly allowance for
the duration of the present state of emergency.
He also advised the DOH to maintain working hard to help the country
overcome the current crisis while ensuring that its transactions are
free of anomalies.
“Utilize your budget judiciously. Nagpapasalamat po ako sa inyong
sakripisyo para sa bayan. Kayo ang frontline agency ngayong pandemya
at alam kong pagod na pagod na rin kayo at nagkakasakit na rin ang iba
sa inyo. Pero isipin po natin ang kapakanan ng ating mga kababayan,”
said Go. (ai/mtvn)