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Allay fears of COVID-19 vaccine with massive info drive, gov’t urged

Bong Go
Bong Go

TO boost public confidence and awareness on the COVID-19 vaccine roadmap, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go urged the national government to conduct a massive information campaign to educate the public on the ongoing process that government is taking to secure safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines for Filipinos.

He emphasized the need to inform the public on the various modes of procurement — as well as plans on the eventual distribution and use — until expected full recovery through ‘herd immunity’ is achieved when the COVID-19 vaccine roadmap is properly implemented.

“Huwag nating pabayaan ang mga ordinaryong Pilipino. Bigyan dapat ng tamang impormasyon ang publiko para hindi matakot at magkaroon ng confidence ukol sa mga vaccines na ito,” he emphasized.

Earlier, President Rodrigo Duterte and Senator Go expressed their willingness to be one of the first to get a dose of the vaccine to encourage the public and allay fears on its safety and efficacy.

“Ako, I’m very much willing na mauna kami ni Pangulong Duterte just to prove to the people na safe na po ito,” he said during an ambush interview right after he led the distribution of assistance to typhoon victims in Arayat, Pampanga. He then proceeded to Candaba to aid more typhoon victims there after the interview.

“Ang importante, makuha natin ang kumpiyansa para unti-unting makabalik sa normal. Sa ngayon naman po, lumalabas na ang tao pero ‘di pa tayo dapat magpa-kumpiyansa. Nandyan pa ang COVID-19, habang wala pa tayong safe na vaccine na natuturok sa Pilipino, kaya mag-ingat pa rin tayo,” he added.

Go has also challenged Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and Vaccine Czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. to be injected first to further build public confidence.

“Kaya nga dine-dare ko po sina Secretary Galvez at Secretary Duque na dapat kayo ang mauna to gain confidence na magpaturok ng vaccine ‘pag meron nang safe na vaccine na na-declare ang ating FDA (Food and Drug Administration),” he said.

“Kunin natin ang kumpiyansa [ng mga tao]… Maraming gustong magpaturok pero takot ang attitude ng Pilipino ngayon. Kayo [government officials] muna ang mauna para mawala ang takot ng tao. Totoo naman, dapat safe, unahin natin ang safety. Mahirap naman magsisihan sa huli,” he further stressed.

A phone survey conducted by the Social Weather Station from September 17 to 20 revealed that 31 percent of Filipinos are unwilling to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Thirty two percent said they will “definitely” get the vaccine while 34 percent responded that they will “probably” get vaccinated.

Go also emphasized the commitment of the government to prioritize the poor and vulnerable sectors, as well as frontliners, including medical workers, teachers and uniformed personnel once a safe and effective vaccine is determined.

“Kapag may safe at effective na vaccine na po, sang-ayon ako sa plano ng ating Pangulo na unahin ang mga mahihirap, mga parte ng vulnerable sectors, at ang ating mga frontliners, tulad ng mga guro, medical workers at uniformed personnel,” he said.

As Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Go has always reminded authorities to urgently act on the matter while following the necessary processes to ensure that public resources are properly utilized in pursuit of the availability of sufficient COVID-19 vaccines.

He also assured that the government is exploring several ways to secure enough vaccines for the Filipinos.

“Marami na pong ine-explore ang ating vaccine czar si Secretary Galvez at ang plano po n’ya, sa first quarter ng taong ito, ay merong two or three vaccine companies na makikipag-deal through different means or ways (of procuring),” he shared.

Go earlier said that the proposed 2021 budget includes an appropriated amount for the purchase of COVID-19 vaccine, and an unprogrammed appropriation which could also be used for this purpose.

He further explained that on top of the 2021 budget and the amount allocated through the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act intended for direct procurement of COVID-19 vaccines, there are other various modes of procurement for the vaccines that the Duterte Administration is exploring.

“Other equally important modes include multilateral loans with the ADB and World Bank, bilateral loans with select countries, and private sector financing through tripartite agreement among the national government, pharmaceutical company and a private company, with no cost to the government,” he explained.

Meanwhile, Go assured the public that he will continue to coordinate with the executive department to ensure the systematic facilitation of the vaccine plan and the prioritization of key vulnerable sectors as expressed by the President.

Go reminded Filipinos that the bayanihan efforts must consistently continue for the country to fully overcome the crisis. He emphasized the need for everyone’s commitment to act responsibly by following the health and safety protocols issued by government.

“Ngayong Pasko, ingat muna tayo habang nandyan ang COVID-19. ‘Wag muna kayong magparty. Kasama ang pamilya n’yo, dasal kayo, kumain kayo ng Noche Buena, kayo-kayo lang, ‘wag muna kayo mag-imbita ng kapitbahay, ‘wag muna kayong lumabas habang wala pang vaccine,” he reminded the public.

“Hintayin n’yo na lang muna sa susunod na taon na mag-normalize na. ‘Wag kayo magmadali. Pili kayo: isang Pasko ngayon kapalit ng mas maraming pasko pa sa buhay n’yo. Makakadamay pa kayo ng kapwa n’yo. ‘Wag muna mag-party, ‘wag muna magkumpiyansa habang nandiyan ang COVID-19,” he ended.