DOCTORS for Truth and Public Welfare co-convenors Dr. Minguita Padilla and Dr. Esperanza Cabral have advocated for better health communication and responsible journalism when discussing the public health value of vaccines.
At the Kapihan sa Manila Bay media briefing, Cabral, a former Health secretary, shed light on the responsibility of those who shared false news on the dengue vaccine, Dengvaxia.
She noted that vaccine confidence dropped from about 93% down to 32% after the controversies in the Philippines, saying, “this shows how those who shared false news on Dengvaxia are the most responsible for the vaccine hesitancy we have today.”
“Especially in the time of pandemic, we must be very careful with what we put in our headlines. There have been no deaths attributed to Dengvaxia,” added Padilla.
Padilla noted that the dengue vaccine continues to be used in at least 20 other countries, and reiterated that the Philippine Food and Drug Administration suspended the vaccine’s certificate of product registration due to administrative reasons, and not safety issues as the chances of getting severe dengue from the vaccine are low.
She also explained how getting vaccinated for other diseases helps relieve the country’s COVID-19 burden. As patients can get infected by multiple diseases, some come to hospitals feeling the symptoms of both COVID-19 and dengue.
Padilla noted that having yourself protected from vaccine-preventable diseases such as dengue or HIV will thus help in a COVID patient’s ability to recover.
The doctors also reminded the public that all FDA-approved COVID vaccines will protect against severe cases of the disease, a much needed outcome for these hospitals who continue to be overwhelmed. They then explained how misinformation about vaccine side effects can easily spread, especially with social media. Both explained how the monitored side-effects of the COVID vaccines are short-term, natural processes with any vaccination.
Padilla and Cabral disclosed that they have received the Sinovac and AstraZeneca vaccines, respectively.
Padilla noted that side effects of sleepiness, slight fevers or headaches, and soreness in the arm are nothing to be worried about.
“I don’t know anybody who has gotten a serious side-effect from either Sinovac or Astrazeneca,” saidcCabra,.
Their final appeal to the public was to avail of the COVID vaccines once made available, and for the government to speed up the process in procuring more vaccines for the country.
“A vaccination program is our way out of this pandemic. Please get a vaccine if it’s available to you,” Cabral concluded.