‘Booster cards won’t dampen business’

A look on Joey Concepcion, Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship and founder of Go Negosyo, as he accommodates the media for an ambush interview at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 on July 16, 2021. PHOTO BY ENRIQUE AGCAOILI

INTENSIFYING the campaign for booster shots against the coronavirus disease will not slow down business activity but instead will reap benefits for the country in the long term, Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Jose Maria “Joey” Concepcion 3rd said Sunday.

The Go Negosyo founder issued the statement amid concerns about the possible effects on businesses of replacing vaccination cards with booster cards as a requirement for entry into spaces and activities that put people at risk of Covid infection.

The booster card proposal is being backed by the country’s leading business organizations as well as medical experts. “Hastening booster vaccinations will prolong the time that we will enjoy more mobility. Boosters strengthen our wall of immunity, making it possible for us to withstand future surges in cases,” Concepcion said.

“We are the last people to want business activity to slow down. What we don’t want is for business to stop completely because we failed to act,” he said. “This is why we are proposing that people be given enough time to get their booster shots. It will not happen all at the same time because people completed their primary vaccinations at different times,” he added.

Increased booster vaccinations will prevent the country from losing millions of dollars by the time 27 million doses expire by July.

“What booster vaccinations will do is quite the opposite: it will allow us to sustain our gain and extend our mobility because those with waning immunity will be updating their vaccinations as we wait for the provinces to catch up with their primary vaccinations,” he said. .

Concepcion earlier sounded the alarm on wanting immunity as booster take-up remains low and could trigger a new spurt in cases and send the country back into lockdowns.

As of March 30, only a little over 12 million Filipinos have received booster shots despite 65.8 million having been fully vaccinated.

Concepcion has recommended specific measures to increase booster vaccinations, including the redefinition of “fully vaccinated” to include a booster dose; booster card requirements for travel, work, and overall movement in lieu of the vaccination card; a 60-day deadline, or around until June this year, to get booster shots; and the proposed use of booster cards in VaxCertPh as proof of vaccination to ease backlogs and prevent proliferation of fake documents and vaccination cards.

“We might not even need a mandate to implement this if we do it in phases,” he said, pointing out that it will become similar with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases restrictions in which only those with booster cards or vaccination cards that are up to date will be allowed to enter enclosed spaces or engage in high-risk activity.

“We are doing the long game here. We need to have enough people who are immune to the virus while we wait for everyone to catch up. We don’t want to leave people out or leave anyone behind,” Concepcion said.

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