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Massive info drive on vaccines urged

A House leader has called on the national government to launch a massive campaign to inform and enlighten the public on coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines.

In a statement, Deputy Speaker and Mandaluyong Rep. Neptali “Boyet” Gonzales II said the Department of Health (DOH) must start educating the public on the real facts and dispel wrong information about the vaccines and even the vaccination program of the government.

“All the billions of pesos appropriated by the government will simply go to waste if a substantial number of the people targeted by the vaccination program of the government will just refuse to be vaccinated, out of fear borne out of lack of information and understanding of the advantages of having it,” Gonzales said.

The country is waiting for the arrival of the vaccines from different sources.

Gonzales said now is the time to inform the general public regarding the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines.

He added it will be difficult to achieve herd immunity if many people choose not to be vaccinated against the deadly respiratory disease.

“A herd immunity will ensure that our economy will get back on track and our country will go back to normal,” he said.

‘Dengvaxia damage’

Following the release of surveys that showed public hesitancy to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, Senator Win Gatchalian urged the government to build public confidence in its vaccination program, which is key to putting an end to the pandemic and allowing the safe reopening of schools.

The senator called the public hesitancy a result of the “Dengvaxia damage,” which eroded the public’s trust in vaccinations.

Gatchalian said that if half of the country would refuse to be vaccinated, the transmission of the virus will not be suppressed. For the basic education sector. This means a prolonged delay in the resumption of in-person classes for more than 22 million public school learners nationwide.

In Metro Manila alone, which is considered a virus hotspot, there are 2 million learners enrolled in public schools.

A recent nationwide Pulse Asia survey of 2,400 adults revealed that 47 percent of Filipinos would not get themselves vaccinated, 32 percent would get vaccinated, and 21 percent are undecided. Of the 2,400 adults who joined the survey, 84 percent are worried about the safety of the vaccine.

According to a survey by the University of the Philippines-OCTA Research Group, where 600 participants from Metro Manila aged 18 and above participated, only 25 percent are willing to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The same survey revealed that 28 percent would not get the vaccine, while 47 percent are undecided.

“Magiging malaki ang problema natin kung walang magpapabakuna laban sa COVID. Hindi tayo makakabalik sa normal na pamumuhay,” Gatchalian said.

‘Suntok sa buwan’

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon described the government’s COVID-19 vaccination plan as “suntok sa buwan”, citing stumblingblocks that could make its target of securing 148 million doses of vaccines and inoculating 70 million Filipinos by the end of 2021 difficult to achieve.

“Parang suntok sa buwan ang vaccination program lalo na yung sinasabi nila na 148 million doses within the year. The arrival of the vaccines is not even definite. How can they say that they will be able to purchase 148 million doses by the end of 2021 when up to now, we haven’t given any Emergency Use Authorization to any vaccine and we have not been able to raise, through loans, all the needed amount for the purchase of the vaccines?” Drilon said.

The Food and Drug Administration said it is ready to issue an emergency use authorization (EUA) within the week.

“I am not reassured in the slightest by what I heard. To be honest, I am more confused now. The government’s COVID-19 vaccination plan fails to provide the public the assurance they need from the government,” Drilon said.

“The plan is good on paper. The plan is filled with uncertainties and it leaves too much to chance,” he added.

Drilon said the government’s target of securing 148 million doses within the year is simply difficult to achieve given what Sec. Carlito Galvez said that 80% of global supply has already been procured by rich countries. With Marlon Purificacion