Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Sec. Eduardo Año has ordered the local government units to seek unvaccinated Filipinos as well as those who are already eligible for their COVID-19 booster shots to combat the threat from the Omicron sub-variants.
“If it means we need to knock on each door to determine who needs to get vaccinated (against COVID-19), let’s do it,” the Interior Secretary said.
He further added that the detection of the new Omicron subvariant BA.4, dubbed as “highly contagious”, calls for LGUs to maximize resources and jurisdictions to convince the unvaccinated to get their shots.
Aside from the aforementioned Omicron subvariant BA.2.12.1 that was primarily detected in the country from a foreign national early in April, BA.4 was detected on Saturday, May 21, from a Filipino citizen who flew from the Middle East last May 4.
However, the traveler came out asymptomatic and the carried variant was declared “a variant of concern (VOC” by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) as it is seen to “either spread faster or cause worse illness” due to its ability to evade immune protection induced by prior infection, even when the individual has been vaccinated long time ago.
Meanwhile, DILG spokesman Jonathan Malaya said Filipinos need to participate in the vaccination program as this will not only help one’s self, but will also contribute to the welfare of the whole nation.
On Saturday, May 21, the Department of Health (DOH) said that although the ECDC has not observed any change in severity of the cases for BA.4 compared to the other Omicron sub-variants, the center still encourages everyone to be careful, as the faster transmission of the virus potentially leads to a spike in cases that could overwhelm the capacity of hospitals and clinics.