Senator Risa Hontiveros on Tuesday appealed to the government to increase the vaccination capacity against COVID-19 across the country and boost its information drive as the Omicron variant now presents a new reality about the pandemic.

Hontiveros said the Department of Health (DOH) should particularly pay attention to places that still have a lower vaccination rate, and coordinate with local government units (LGUs) and the private sector to add more vaccination sites and vaccination teams so more people can be inoculated.

“The active COVID cases have nearly doubled in three days. The positivity rate is almost four times the ceiling set by the World Health Organization (WHO),” Hontiveros said in a statement.

“Huwag na nating hintayin na sobrang lumala pa ang sitwasyon bago tayo gumawa ng paraan para mapabilis ang ating pagbabakuna (Let’s not wait for the situation to worsen before we do something to increase inoculation),” she added.

She also said the DOH must strengthen its information drive about the booster shots so that people who have been inoculated for the past three months since their second dose can avail of the booster.

Likewise, she reiterated her call for the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) to make COVID-testing more affordable and accessible to the people, especially those who are exhibiting symptoms.

“In addition to this, the Bureau of Quarantine also has to ensure that they have enough personnel to properly monitor the accredited quarantine facilities so nobody dares to violate the strict quarantine protocols,” the re-electionist senator also said.

Nevertheless, Hontiveros said the public should cooperate and follow health and safety protocols and to continue to be vigilant.

“Huwag tayong maging kampante. Huwag balewalain ang panganib na dala ng COVID variants (Let’s not be complacent. Let’s take the risks associated by COVID variants seriously),” she said.

“Patuloy nating sundin ang (Let’s continue following the) minimum health protocols, lalo na at kailangan ng dagdag na proteksyon ng mga senior citizens at ng mga may commorbities (especially since senior citizens and those with commorbidities need added protection),” the lawmaker added.

Hontiveros said she has faith that the surge capacity of the country’s health system is stronger this 2022.

“Papasok na tayong mga Pilipino sa ikatlong taon ng pakikipagbuno sa COVID, ngunit huwag nating hayaang patamlayin ng Omicron variant ang ating pag-asa ngayong Bagong Taon (We Filipinos are entering the third year fighting COVID, but let’s not allow the Omicron variant dampen our hopes this New Year),” she stressed.

Source: Manila Bulletin (