Less than a third of Filipinos open to COVID-19 jabs – survey

January 8, 2021 - 8:59 AM
People wear face masks and face shields amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Manila, Philippines, December 17, 2020. (Reuters/Lisa Marie David)

MANILA — Less than a third of Filipinos are willing to get inoculated against the coronavirus, an opinion poll showed on Thursday, as the government races to secure vaccines to give to as many as 70 million people this year.

The survey by Pulse Asia conducted between Nov. 23 and Dec. 2, found that 32% of 2,400 respondents would get a COVID-19 vaccine jab when available, while 47% would refuse it over safety concerns.

The remaining 21% were undecided, the poll showed.

Nearly all of the respondents said they knew vaccines were being developed, but 84% were unsure of their safety, highlighting the challenges the government may face in convincing its people to get vaccinated.

The Philippines has had difficulties with parents being reluctant to vaccinate their children after a high-profile scrapping of a dengue immunization program in 2017, following its links to child deaths. Sanofi’s has insisted the vaccine used, Dengvaxia, is safe.

A separate poll on Thursday of 1,500 people by Social Weather Stations, conducted in late November, showed 91% of Filipinos were worried about being infected with the coronavirus, up from 85% in September.

The government on Wednesday said it was negotiating with seven vaccine manufacturers to procure at least 148 million COVID-19 shots to inoculate close to two-thirds of its population this year.

The Philippines has so far secured only 2.6 million doses, from AstraZeneca, and its regulators have yet to approve any COVID-19 vaccines. It is deliberating on emergency use applications filed by Pfizer and AstraZeneca.

The country, which has recorded more than 482,000 coronavirus cases, among the most in Asia, hopes to roll out the vaccines as early as the first quarter. —Reporting by Karen Lema; Editing by Martin Petty