‘Bakuna bubbles’ nationwide pushed

BUSINESS MIRROR

PRESIDENTIAL Adviser for Entrepreneurship Jose Maria “Joey” Concepcion 3rd on Saturday recommended the nationwide implementation of bakuna bubbles as the government intensifies its coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccination drive with the private sector through the “vax to the max” scheme.

Concepcion said vaccination hesitancy remains high in the provinces, hindering the reopening of the local economy.

“If we are to save lives and jobs, we need to vaccinate at least 70 percent in all regions. We need to create bakuna bubbles not just in the National Capital Region (NCR) but the rest of the country. Being vaccinated is our weapon in winning this war. Vaccines protect us from severe infection and hospitalization,” Concepcion said in a statement.

Despite the NCR’s 84+ percent target vaccination rate, a survey conducted by OCTA Research in September revealed that vaccine hesitancy remains high in the provinces, with 32 percent of those surveyed in the Visayas opting not to take the jab.

In areas in Luzon outside of the NCR, the figure remains high at 24 percent, and in Mindanao at 19 percent.

“Vaccination rates are linked to economic incentives given by the government to local businesses. LGUs (local government units) which have vaccinated 70 percent of their population are given an additional 20 percent increase in capacity,” Concepcion said.

The vax to the max scheme employs the Philippine map as a graphic guide, showing vaccination rates in the various regions and the percentage of the population that has already been vaccinated. It uses data from the Department of Information and Communications Technology, and is refreshed every one to two weeks.

The vax to the max dashboard was first published in major Philippines newspapers on October 31.

Malacanang said it still needs to assess the need for vaccine bubbles.

Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo founder Jose Maria “Joey” Concepcion 3rd

“To me, at some point, we need to build trust for the vaccines, but we could not just implement that [vaccine bubbles]now,” Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said in an earlier press briefing.

Roque reassured the public that Covid-19 vaccines are safe and effective.

“Let us remember, getting vaccinated is free. We repeat — all vaccines are safe and effective because they were approved by the Food and Drug Administration,” he added.

Mandatory vaccination

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) said it is considering proposals to make vaccination against the Covid-19 mandatory in the country.

“This is what is being discussed now in the IATF-EID. Currently, there are discussions on how to push through with mandatory vaccination),” National Task Force Against Covid-19 spokesman Restituto Padilla Jr. said in a radio interview.

Padilla said statistics showed that the majority of severe or critical Covid-19 patients were unvaccinated.

Once a law is enacted making vaccination mandatory, Padilla said there will be consequences for those who still refuse to get jabbed.

“If ever this becomes a law, there would be repercussions against those who refuse to get vaccinated unless the reason is an underlying medical condition that could endanger their lives when vaccinated,” he said.

On Thursday, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said he was in favor of making Covid-19 vaccination mandatory.

“In this case, we really need to vaccinate all Filipinos. I see that we need to maybe mandate vaccination because we’re really at risk. If we will not vaccinate everybody and we’ll have a sizable amount of 20 million [people] roaming around, those anti-vaxxers roaming around, it will then threaten those that are vaccinated,” Galvez said, noting that a law must be enacted to enforce the mandatory Covid-19 vaccination.

Malacanang, however, said a law mandating Covid-19 vaccination was not needed for now since the country’s vaccine supply started to stabilize in October.

The government has administered a total of 62.4 million Covid shots, including the some 33.7 million first dosage administered as of Thursday.

An estimated 28,718,856 have been fully inoculated, representing 37.23 percent of the target population.

The government originally aimed to vaccinate 70 million this year to achieve herd immunity against Covid-19 but revised the target to just 50 to 60 percent of the population due to the instability of global vaccine supply.

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