“THEY know their communities and can convince them to participate in the COVID vaccination process!”
This was what Congressman Alfred Vargas, Chair of the Social Services Committee Of Congress, said about the impact social workers can have for a successful vaccination program. Across the nation the DSWD alone deploys more than 10,000 social workers. They can help the DOH and Secretary Galvez communicate the value and acceptance of vaccination against the coronavirus on a grass roots level.
Vaccine confidence is currently at its lowest in the Philippines after the Dengvaxia hysteria in 2017. Dr. Lulu Bravo, executive director of the Philippine Foundation for Vaccination, aired concerns that the country may not be ready yet for COVID-19 vaccination as the public is hesitant and there needs to be more done to convince them.
This is supported by data from OCTA Research that conducted a survey showing that in Metro Manila, a covid hot spot, only 25% are willing to be vaccinated, 28% would not want to be vaccinated at all and a large proportion of 47% remains undecided. Recent reports on the low efficacy of the China made SinoVac/CoronaVac vaccine also contribute to the vaccine hesitancy among Filipinos.
Let us harness the full potential of the social workers, Vargas said, as they are highly credible individuals, respected and accepted by their communities!
He has called for a meeting with the DSWD and NGOs like the Philippine Association of Social Workers (PASWI) to plot out how the organizations can contribute and actively assist with the National COVID vaccination program.
Vargas also called on Galvez to declare social workers nationwide as essential frontliners in the fight against covid. He also called on Secretary Martin Andanar of the PCOO, the government Agency that controls PTV4, to come out with a campaign that will help Filipinos accept the benefits of vaccination.
DSWD Secretary Rolando Bautista issued a statement that they are part of the Task Force on Vaccination Program which is tasked to ensure the protection of all Filipinos, particularly the old, compromised and those with disabilities.
“The DSWD is part of the task force and the official support that it will extend is the identification of those who will be prioritized, like the poor families and individuals and the essential frontline workers,” he said.
As for his district in Quezon City, Vargas said he is working closely with local officials to improve vaccine acceptance and the implementation of neighborhood information programs that will help the national government in the seamless implementation of the covid vaccination.
Vargas insisted: “We need to convince our people that being vaccinated is the best action to regain a sense of normalcy. This is our best path to recovery!”
Vargas is set to call for a congressional committee meeting that will include the DSWD, the private sector, PASWI, Broadcasting companies, the DOH and COVID response task force members.