February 5, 2023

NO TIME FOR COMPLACENCY EVEN WITH VACCINE ROLLOUT

The initial rollout of the vaccines against the Covid-19 among Filipino frontliners should not be taken as a sign to disregard the protocols to mitigate the spread of the infection.
The Philippines has received on Feb. 28 the first batch of vaccines, which paved the way for the country’s mass inoculation. The vaccines, developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech, are donations.
On March 4, the second batch of vaccines arrived in the country with the 487,200 doses of AstraZeneca under the World Health Organization’s Covax facility.
In the local front, healthcare personnel of the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center were the first to be vaccinated with Sinovac amid issues on its efficacy. Our local health officials share the view of health experts from developed countries that waiting for a supposed more effective vaccine could be the worst thing one can do to lower his risk of getting infected with the Covid-19.
Filipinos are grateful of the arrival of vaccines against the Covid-19, one which we have been waiting all along to help contain the spread of the infection that has adversely affected not only our financial, but also our social and psychological well-being.
That we finally have the anti-Covid-19 vaccines, however, should not be a reason for the public and local government units to be complacent.
May we be reminded that the number of doses that arrived in the Philippines is not even one percent of the individuals the country targets to vaccinate to achieve herd immunity.
Of the 600,000 doses donated by China, the Cordillera was allotted 7,280 doses, received by the Department of Health regional office in Baguio City on March 4. The doses were distributed to all hospitals in the region, which have 8,828 health workers.
The more than 7,000 doses could barely cover the medical frontliners in the region, which should be a reminder that even if the vaccines have arrived and inoculation has been rolled out, the battle against the Covid-19 is not yet over. The war against this unseen enemy is way far from over.
This is why as we appreciate the easing of the restrictions by the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, we are apprehensive that it might lead to another catastrophe if quarantine measures are set aside.
In Baguio, we are not sold on the city government’s decision to forego the RT-PCR requirement for tourists, the presentation of which remains the best proof that a visitor is free of the virus that causes the Covid-19. It bothers us more when Baguio recorded 130 new cases on March 4, the same day it announced the easing of restrictions.
Of all the restrictions, the RT-PCR requirement should not have been lifted.
A responsible tourist should understand the RT-PCR requirement is a preventive measure against the spread of the Covid-19, not a measure to prohibit them from visiting a place. Costly, yes; but it’s a price we should be willing to pay if we want to help revive the local economy while ensuring public health and safety. This is how the goal to “live with the virus” should be achieved.
Again, the arrival of the anti-Covid-19 vaccines is not the end of the battle against the virus that causes the infection. We still have a long way to go before we can confidently lay down our arms and claim victory.
For now, our best defense remains the basics – imposition of quarantine regulations and compliance with the minimum health protocols.