The Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday repeated the urgency for senior citizens (A2) and persons with comorbidities (A3) to avail of booster shots against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

Dr. Divine Agustin, DOH Disease Prevention and Control Bureau-Evidence Generation and Management Section officer-in-charge, insisted that the groups remain most vulnerable to increased risk of hospitalization and death.

Agustin said through time, the body’s immune response naturally decreases the creation of antibodies.

“Kailangan nating pataasin ulit para magkaroon tayo ng proteksyon uli sa (We need to increase it again to have a protection against) severe Covid-19 leading to hospitalizations and deaths,” she said during the annual convention of the Philippine Heart Association (PHA) at Edsa Shangri-La in Mandaluyong City.

The DOH noted that among those with comorbidities, 59.2 percent are yet to be boosted.

“For A2, that’s just 33 percent and they really need the booster, so we are really falling short for the senior citizens (group), and for the A3, 40.8 percent have their first boosters already,” Agustin added.

She also urged the public to take advantage of the government’s program despite the lifting of the global public health emergency for Covid-19.

“Very accessible po ang bakuna. Free pa po siya (It’s very accessible. It’s free). So take that opportunity to be vaccinated. Kasi baka after some time, by purchase na po siya (After some time, it will be for sale),” Agustin said.

Covid-19, CVD interaction
Among the highly susceptible are those with cardiovascular diseases (CVD).

CVD remains one of the top priorities of the DOH, considering that its interaction with Covid-19 increases the risk of death by 2.75 percent.

“We discovered that with the presence of cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, diabetes, and cerebrovascular disease, tumataas pa po lalo ‘yung risk na mamatay ang isang Pilipino mula sa Covid-19 (it increases the risk of Covid-19 deaths among Filipinos). And this needs action on our end,” Agustin said.

Besides the immunization campaign, the DOH also echoed its seven healthy habits campaign to promote healthy hearts for Filipinos — increase mobility alongside a balanced diet; maintain cleanliness and sustainability; get vaccinated; refrain from smoking and illegal drug use, and decrease alcohol intake; take care of oneself and others; practice safe sex; and promote safety.

“We want you to be health advocates, and support the programs and projects of the department, including Covid-19 and routine vaccination campaigns. Participate in the health-related campaigns in the communities, workplaces, and learning institutions,” Agustin said.

Meanwhile, health experts also reassured the public that the benefits of vaccines and booster shots far outweigh their risks, even against the risk of myocarditis.

“It is likely more to be struck by lightning compared to getting myocarditis and causing death. That’s the truth… This has been backed up by evidence, not only in the literature but international health care system,” PHA Director II Dr. Richard Henry Tiongco said.

In the end, the DOH urged the public to be vigilant against fake information circulating online.

Kapag tayo ay may duda, either tumingin tayo sa advisories ng Department of Health or komunsulta tayo sa ating mga doktor para malinawan tayo ano nga ba ‘yung mga dapat nating gawin, ano ‘yung katotohanan sa mga bakuna. ‘Wag po tayo maniwala sa false news (If we are in doubt, either let’s look at the DOH advisories or consult our doctors for us to be enlightened on the things that we should do, on the truth about the vaccines. Do not believe false news),” Agustin said. (PNA)