Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque Jr emphasized in his press briefing on January 28 the importance of educating the public about the importance of vaccination in order to boost public confidence on vaccination as the Philippines gets ready to vaccinate its priority populations as early as February this year.
“Ang tawag po natin dito usaping bakuna. Bakit po tayo mayroong usaping bakuna? Eh kasi po para huwag na tayong maguluhan na andaming lima-singko na di umano’y eksperto. Tayo na po ang nag-imbita ng tunay na eksperto para mabigyan tayo ng tinatawag na vaccine education,” said Secretary Roque.
The Palace official is referring to Dr. Charles Yu, Vice-Chancellor of the De La Salle Medical and Health Sciences Institute and Past President of the Philippine College of Physicians and the Philippine College of Chest Physicians.
Dr. Yu, in the said press briefing, explained that the public should trust that all available vaccines that are available now or have been given emergency use authorization (EUA) are safe since all of it passed through strict process and criteria, including evaluation of regulatory authorities and vaccine experts.
On the decrease in vaccine confidence among Filipinos, Dr. Yu said that Filipinos should support mass vaccination in order to go back to the normal way of living. He emphasized that if 60 to 70 percent of the Philippine population will be vaccinated, then 30 to 40 percent of those who will not be vaccinated will be protected.
Dr. Yu also underscored that for those who are invoking their personal rights to refuse to be vaccinated, these people should think about how their actions or decisions will affect the greater good. He said that the more people who will be vaccinated means greater protection for the majority.
On fears of side effects of the vaccines, Dr. Yu assured that all available vaccines today are safe. He stressed that there have been millions who have been injected already with the vaccines and only a few experienced side effects, which are actually expected.
As a pulmonologist, Dr. Yu cited his experience in treating tuberculosis where even if a vaccine or medicine is given for free, they still have to convince people to get treatment. He underscored that even if the government tries hard to secure and provide free vaccines for the people, it will not work without everyone’s cooperation.
“Importante po talaga na i-promote natin ang vaccine education sa panahon po na marami po talagang hindi naman experts na nagsasamantala para sumikat lamang, kung ano-anong mga ginagawa, kung pano pong nangyari nasira ang vaccine confidence natin dahil dito sa mga di naman eksperto na kung ano-anong kabulastugan ang ikinalat, ang panlaban po natin ang mga tunay na eksperto gaya ninyo,” remarked Secretary Roque.
On another matter, Sec. Roque cited the current ranking of the Philippines in terms of the number of COVID-19 cases worldwide. Citing the World Health Organization (WHO) and Johns Hopkins ranking as of January 28, Sec Roque said that the Philippines is currently ranked 32 in terms of the total number of cases and ranked 42 in terms of active cases.
The same ranking puts the Philippines in number 133 in terms of cases per 1M population, and number 73 in terms of case fatality rate.
“So I think ang mga figures po from the WHO will indicate that we have been managing rather well yung mga COVID cases,” said Roque. ### OPS-PCOO