Jinggoy Estrada, Risa Hontiveros split on mandatory COVID-19 booster shots

MANILA, Philippines — Senators differed on Tuesday on a proposal to require booster shots against COVID-19 in light of the rising number of infections in the country.

Senator  Jinggoy Estrada agreed with the suggestion raised by infectious disease expert Dr. Rontgene Solante while Senator Risa Hontiveros maintained she is against it.

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“I support the suggestion of mandatory COVID-19 booster shots for the adult population,” Estrada said in a text message to reporters, noting that  COVID-19 vaccines have protected people from  “the worst case of coronavirus infection.”

“Now that we are seeing again an increase in cases and the positivity rate, as we also expect the waning of potency of vaccines which were administered six months ago, it is the duty of the government to decide swiftly (upon the advice of our health experts) and to implement urgent measures to protect its citizens against this dreaded disease and against another wave of economic recession and hardships that could result from another Covid surge,” he said.

Just like her stand against mandatory vaccination, Hontiveros said she does not also agree that the public must be required to get COVID-19 booster shots.

“Sa halip nyan, ang dapat nating gawin ay ipagpatuloy, paigtingin pa nga ang ating public health education para kumbinsihin ang ating mga kababayan na hindi o hind pa nagpapa booster na malayang gawin ito alang-alang sa kanilang sarili, sa kanilang mga pamilya, at sa ating buong lipunan,” she said in an interview with Senate reporters.

(Instead, we should continue and strengthen further our public health education to encourage our countrymen  who have yet to receive the booster shots  to voluntarily  do it for their own sake, for their families, and for our communities.)

According to Hontiveros, the decision of those who are against mandatory vaccination or booster must be respected.

And they should not be discriminated too, she stressed.

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go likewise urged the government to further strengthen its vaccination campaign to cover as many qualified individuals as possible.

“We have done well the past year in acquiring sufficient vaccine supply but we must amplify these efforts further in order to reach areas with low vaccination rates,” Go said.

While respecting the right of every Filipino to choose whether to get vaccinated or not,  Go said the government should also provide the people with the right information to help them make the right decision.

Senator Loren Legarda, meanwhile, stressed the importance of getting boosted when she made a strong call for those qualified to receive the booster shots.

“I would strongly urge all those qualified—eligible based on age and comorbidities— to avail of the booster shots all over the country, to ensure our health and that of our workforce, and families,” she said.

“This is beneficial to the economy, to the education of our children, and to our own well-being,” Legarda also stressed. Maila Ager/Inquirer