Marcos gets 2nd booster shot amid vaccine push

PHILIPPINE STAR/ KRIZ JOHN ROSALES

PHILIPPINE President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. got his second booster shot against the coronavirus on Wednesday as part of a state campaign in the face of threats from more contagious Omicron subvariants.

“It is very important [to get a] booster shot now to combat our problem with the new subvariants of Omicron,” Mr. Marcos, 64, said before receiving his Pfizer booster in a mall in Manila.

His son Ferdinand Alexander, a congressman from Ilocos Norte, also got his second booster. “I asked my son to join me today to demonstrate how important it is that everybody gets their booster.”

Mr. Marcos’ second booster comes more than a month after he tested positive for the coronavirus.

He said he wanted to show that boosters are critical as more businesses resume face-to-face operations and as the country tries to return to normalcy.

Increasing the Philippines’ booster uptake would also bring the country closer to a future where face masks are no longer needed, he added.

“It is effective and it is needed, with us trying to open the economy, trying to open the schools, trying to bring everything back to a normal situation,” he said. “Hopefully, this will trigger a reaction from our people and we will be able now to see that the take-up of our vaccination rollout will be higher.”

Before getting his booster shot, Mr. Marcos said the government would do everything to get more new coronavirus vaccines formulated to counter Omicron threats.

The Health department earlier said it had allotted a budget for the newer vaccines.

After his vaccination, Mr. Marcos told reporters he would likely “extend” the state of public health emergency in the Philippines in connection with the pandemic until yearend. 

His predecessor Rodrigo R. Duterte first declared the emergency on March 8, 2020. It will remain in force until lifted, according to the proclamation.

The state of public health emergency is different from the state of national calamity that was also declared during the pandemic.

Mr. Duterte first declared the state of calamity on March 16, 2020. The declaration, which had been extended twice, will expire on Sept. 12.

Lifting the state of calamity would affect the emergency permits given to vaccines and medicines for COVID-19 as well as the benefits enjoyed by health workers.

In his first address to Congress, Mr. Marcos said he would no longer impose lockdowns.

Coronavirus infections in the Philippines have increased in the past month.

The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention has placed the Southeast Asian nation along with Russia and Nepal under the high-risk category for the coronavirus.

It said travelers should avoid the Philippines unless they are up to date with their vaccines. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza