Home>Editorial>Opinion>VaxTory: Implementing Stricter Vaccine Policies for a Better Economy

VaxTory: Implementing Stricter Vaccine Policies for a Better Economy

HILAGYO

After one year of waiting, vaccination drives finally started to happen in the Philippines during this year in March. Its aim is to finally eradicate the virus and recuperate from the pandemic in a more secure manner. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), these vaccines have been shown to protect patients from the virus and will prevent them from severe sickness and death. The vaccination program of the Department of Health (DOH) aims to protect the citizens of the Philippines from the CoronaVirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). This would be done through proper allocation and prioritization of vaccines. The COVID-19 immunization program plan was implemented in line with specific principles. These include human well-being, equal respect, national equity, reciprocity, and legitimacy. The objectives associated with human well-being and reciprocity are alleviation of the disease, lessened deaths, and protection for front liners and citizens. As for those associated with equal respect and national equity, objectives include equal and safe distribution of vaccines for all.

Aside from the encouragement of the government, existing policies were also implemented in these vaccination drives such as social distancing, wearing of face masks and face shields, avoiding large groups, and washing hands frequently. But as time passed by, and policies implemented were beginning to soften, some of the protocols are being ignored by the Filipinos. An example of this is when children ages 17 and below are now allowed to go outside of their houses. Since then, it was evident that many people are going to the malls without following simple protocols such as social distancing. And it is very alarming for the minors, since they are mostly the ones who are not yet vaccinated. Although Dr. Maria Rosario Vergeire, the spokesperson of the Department of Health, stated that younger people are less susceptible to Covid-19, this does not provide comfort to the public, especially because a 2-year-old boy was just diagnosed with the virus after being brought to the mall.

Despite more COVID-19 vaccine deliveries lagging in some regions, the chair of the House Ways and Means Committee stated that the country’s 5% GDP growth target for this year is still attainable. The numerous delivery lags have a significant impact on regional vaccination rates and the efficient allocation of vaccines throughout the country. According to Maybank analysts Chua Hak Bin, Lee Ju Ye, and Linda Liu, this situation, along with the emergence of more contagious variants, will push back the timeline for the country’s herd immunity. The analysts also added that reopening the economy more permanently will be delayed as well, because it will only occur when the vaccination rate reaches herd immunity thresholds of 70%. With this information, the group believes it is safe to say that a stricter vaccination program with efficient vaccine allocation will significantly help improve economic growth. More delays and poor execution of vaccination drives may further delay the herd immunity that the country is targeting.

A CNN Philippines article reported that President Duterte accounted for the scarcity in the supply of vaccines in the Philippines. And to achieve a stricter vaccination policy, there should be a better allocation of vaccinations nationally. To fully start the vaccination process, there should be a heaving supply of vaccines. These should be disseminated until herd immunity is established. The government department should gather the needed resources into having a reservoir of vaccines to be accumulated by the people. This leads to increased vaccination access. Provide walk-ins, drive-ins, and pop-up vaccination sites as well as mobile vaccinations that are accompanied by strike teams in places that are at high risk and vulnerable. These solutions ensure broader coverage. According to Vital Strategies, an organization that caters to strengthening public health systems, these solutions are being done widespread globally, and they show promising results.

The stigma of the COVID-19 vaccine should be desolated since this is one of the main hindrances as to why people are not ecstatic about getting the vaccine. The group suggests that there is a need to advertise vaccinations more. The use of marketing, endorsements and the likes with people in society who are looked upon and listened to would help break the discouragement of acquiring the vaccine. Communities should engage with local health authorities to identify the communication gap and to better understand these barriers. Strategically maximizing the reach of new audiences can help increase the engagement of people to vaccines. There should be the dissemination of facts and concrete data exhibited to all communities, especially in places where there are no prominent sources of this information.

By VVV: Vaccine Validate Victory

Cecilio, Maita Ruby M.
Chan, Sebastian Andre L.
Doria, Lara Gwyneth d.L.
Evangelista, Hannah Jeiselle S.
Gonzales, Lleria N.


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