July 16, 2024

Senators Vicente Sotto III and Panfilo Lacson are openly asking: “Why don’t we have any vaccines yet?” Short of criticizing the government’s apparent half-hearted effort in procuring the vaccines, they are wondering why it is taking so long for the antidote against the Covid-19 to be delivered on Philippine shores.
The two lawmakers ought to know by now that most of the antigens have been cornered by rich countries that have paid for the price of the vaccine even while it was still on trial. They should realize there is the commercial aspect of it. Nations with more money are given priority. Besides, their governments and people are willing to accept the anti-Covid vaccines without conditions and with full trust in its efficacy. What about us? Do we have as much confidence in the efficacy of the variants as all others?
The question that should be asked Sotto and Lacson is: “Do our people have confidence that the anti-Covid vaccine will normalize their lives?” This is pertinent since according to the latest survey, only 25 percent of all Filipinos are willing to be vaccinated. The other 75 percent are wary or are reluctant to obtain their shots. The reasons? It varies.
Some do not want to be vaccinated because of safety concerns. They claim the vaccine might not be as good as advertised. They continuously cite as an example the dengvaxia, which was subsumed to be suicidal to take. Some are reluctant because the price of the anti-Covid injection might be expensive as it is prohibitive. They’d rather use their money to buy food or clothing than take their chances on something that they are unfamiliar with. Still, some do not believe in the efficacy of the vaccine, especially the ones made in China. Well, if the vaccine is made available now, most, if not all, want to be injected but only with the product produced by Pfizer or Moderna.
With a scientific study that the Covid virus is mutating on a daily basis, there is no guarantee that the strain will be dead by the time it makes contact with the antigen. In the minds of the ordinary Filipinos, the old-fashioned way of treating colds remains to be the most convenient in dealing with Covid-19. It is for this reason that the virgin coconut oil is a best seller.
It is for this reason that some of us are stuffing our pantries with onions and ginger, asserting that juicing these spices is a ready and available cheap cure.
What am I trying to drive at in all these? There is a stark reality that even if the government will be able to procure enough anti-Covid vaccines at this time, there is no guarantee that it will be used to the fullest. People think they can do without a vaccine. The survey is revealing. As far as Filipinos are concerned, after more than 10 months of contending with the virus, they have found a natural antidote. Lots of prayer, lots of water, and lots of vitamin C. It is a mental condition that is endangering the safety of the nation. To me, this first must be checked before a debate is made on whether we should have the vaccines now. There are trust issues that must be solved.
The chunk of the population must be educated about the need to be inoculated so that when the vaccine becomes available, they will not resist it. The 70 percent of Filipinos who do not want to be immunized should be assured that the anti-Covid vaccine is safe and affordable, even free from those who have no means to buy it. That whatever brand is administered on them, it will make no difference on its potency. The vaccine czar and all persons in charge must assure us that all anti-Covid vaccines are effective and safe.
This is the reason why it becomes very important to assert that the first doses should be administered on those in power, like the President, the Vice President, and all sitting elected officials. They should serve as the role model for only after they have taken theirs without any fearful side-effects will people build the trust and confidence to have themselves vaccinated. Then, when all Filipinos have gained the courage to be immunized, we can start asking: “Where are the vaccines?”