AN EPIDEMIOLOGIST on Wednesday urged the government to vaccinate all Filipinos aged 50 years and above to avoid a surge in hospitalizations and deaths.

Local government units should also make vaccination more accessible, and business groups should help the government improve the vaccination process during the strict lockdown, EpiMetrics Philippines President John Q. Wong told an online forum.

“Because of your experience in working with customers, help local government units understand your customers,” he told companies. He added that these should help convince people to get vaccinated, while helping gather feedback to improve the vaccination experience.

Interior Secretary Eduardo M. Año asked businesses to keep observing health rules at workplaces.

“We also encourage you to actively engage our local government units in the fight against COVID-19, especially in the procurement of vaccine doses,” he said.

The government seeks to give out 4 million more coronavirus vaccines during the two-week enhanced quarantine in Metro Manila that starts on Aug. 6 to raise the vaccination coverage to 45% and bring the region closer to achieving so-called population protection, Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Benjamin de Castro Abalos told the forum.

About 8.35 million shots had been given out as of Aug. 2 and almost a million more people would get vaccinated from Aug. 3 to 5, he said.

By the end of the strict lockdown, 12.6 million vaccine shots would have been given out, he said.

“We’re calling for additional sites because of the stormy weather,” Mr. Abalos said. He also asked the private sector to deploy mobile vaccination teams that could be assigned to local governments.

Metro Manila will be under an enhanced community quarantine, the strictest lockdown level, for two weeks starting Aug. 6. Residents may still go out to get vaccinated. — JPI