MANILA, Sept 12 (Mabuhay) —

The Department of Health (DOH) on Sunday said it will conduct a national COVID-19 booster week on September 26 to 29 to ramp up the booster uptake among the general population.

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) also recommended such, in line with its proposal to make the wearing of face masks outdoors optional by year-end, Lorra Angelia Sayson, DOH head assistant to the officer-in-charge Secretary, said.

A passenger and driver of a pedicab use umbrellas to prevent them from getting drenched during a heavy downpour along Quezon Avenue, Quezon City. Based on the latest PAGASA weather bulletin, the typhoon is expected to move northwest and exit the Philippine Area of Responsibility early next week.(MNS photo)

“All government agencies are to implement sector specific policies at lalo na ‘yung magpo-provide ng incentives (especially providing incentives) to encourage individuals to get boosters. Katuwang po natin dito ang iba’t ibang mga ahensiya upang maisakatuparan itong national booster week natin (we are partnering with different agencies to make this happen),” she said.

Pending President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s formal approval, the IATF has proposed the voluntary wearing of face masks in open spaces or non-crowded outdoor areas with good ventilation, provided that the COVID-19 booster uptake in the country improves.

However, based on the DOH’s national COVID-19 vaccination dashboard, only 18.5 million Filipinos have received their booster shots as of September 9.

This is still a far cry from the 72.7 million Filipinos who are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Sayson said that throughout the four-day national booster week by end-September, the government is eyeing to administer more booster shots in order to achieve its PinasLakas target by October 8.

The PinasLakas campaign aimed to give booster doses to 50% of the country’s eligible population or 23.8 million Filipinos within the first 100 days of the Marcos administration.

DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire earlier said the DOH increased its target to more than 400,000 COVID-19 booster shots per day after the campaign failed to meet its daily goals since it started.

One of the reasons the DOH sees for the refusal to get the booster dose is that nine out of 10 Filipinos are “overconfident” about the protection elicited by the first two COVID-19 doses and see no need of getting a booster shot. (MNS)