Boost vaccine info drive instead of dismissing refusers, Palace official told

August 9, 2021 - 7:36 PM
A woman receives her first dose of Sinovac Biotech's CoronaVac vaccine for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at the Barangay Sucat Covered Court, in Muntinlupa City, Metro Manila, Philippines, June 21, 2021. (Reuters/Lisa Marie David)

The government should strengthen and improve its information drive about COVID-19 and the benefits of receiving vaccines instead of outrightly dismissing those who refuse to get inoculated.

This is the advice of some Filipinos online in response to President Rodrigo Duterte‘s spokesperson. He was asked whether the government has a program for those who do not want to get vaccinated, and he answered:

“Well, sa ngayon po, siguro ang programa diyan eh bahala na si COVID-19 sa kanila kung ayaw nila magpabakuna,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in his Monday press briefing.

A day before Metro Manila was placed under enhanced community quarantine, thousands of Filipinos flocked to vaccination sites with the hopes to get inoculated against COVID-19.

Some of those interviewed said they’re concerned that immunization drives wouldn’t continue during the hard lockdown while others thought that they wouldn’t receive financial aid from the government or be allowed to work without getting the jab.

Officials previously said COVID-19 vaccinations will continue under the ECQ.

It was also reported that the Philippine National Police has ordered an investigation about the circulation of false information. The messages passed around in chat groups falsely claimed that the unvaccinated won’t receive aid and be granted passes to go outside homes.

Meanwhile, those who learned of Roque’s words about vaccine refusers urged the government to be proactive in its information drive on COVID-19 vaccines.

“What an irresponsible statement coming from the [administration]. Parang sinabi niya na ‘BAHALA KAYO KUNG GUSTO NYONG MAMATAY.’ At this point, the [government] should already have action plans on how to combat vaccine hesitancy,” a Twitter user said in response to the Palace official.

“Information drive would be helpful,” wrote another online user with a facepalm emoji.

“The inhumanity of it all. This could’ve been reduced [by] reaching out to grassroots to educate people about vaccines and their overall benefits. But these get overruled in favor of kooks from all places in the political spectrum,” a different user commented.

Another Twitter user shared a rebuttal to Roque concerning the supply of vaccines available.

“Ang tanong: Nabakunahan na ba ang lahat ng gustong magpabakuna?” the user argued.

Last January, the Palace official was slammed for claiming that the public cannot be choosy in the brand of COVID-19 vaccine given to them.

Some social media users argued that Filipinos “deserve better” when it comes to vaccines as it involves one’s health.

The government has procured the most number of Sinovac vaccines which has reported varying efficacy rates in its clinical trials, the lowest of which is 51%.

The World Health Organization validated it for emergency use last June and said that the world “desperately needs multiple COVID-19 vaccines to address the huge access inequity across the globe.”

It said that Sinovac has a recorded 100% efficacy rate in Brazil’s phase three trial in terms of preventing hospitalization and severe COVID-19.

The Department of Health previously released infographics on the COVID-19 Delta variant which involved urging the public to get shot with whatever vaccine brand that is available to them.

“More studies are needed to determine the effectiveness of vaccines against the Delta variant, but data shows that people who are fully-vaccinated are protected against the severe symptoms of COVID-19 which may lead to hospitalization or death,” it said.

“We urge everyone, when it is your turn, to choose to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and protect yourself and your loved ones,” the health agency added.