Thursday, January 28, 2021

Many Filipinos scared of Covid vaccines

WITH MANY Filipinos worry over the government Covid vaccine program due to safety concerns, Zamboanga Mayor Beng Climaco has urged the Department of Health to institutionalize its vaccination program.

A recent survey conducted by Pulse Asia showed that Filipino adults said they would not get vaccinated against the deadly respiratory disease following news reports of deaths in other countries and the dengue vaccine scare, including the government’s purchase of Chinese Covid vaccines which have lesser efficacy that other Western pharmaceutical brands.

Nearly 50% of those who took part in the survey said they do not want to be inoculated even when doses are already available. Only 32% of the respondents said they are willing to be vaccinated while 21% remain undecided.

President Rodrigo Duterte who said he would be the first to be vaccinated in public to dispel fears and safety concerns among Filipinos, now wanted to be the last to get the vaccine privately.

Climaco said she made the suggestion following her observation and the result of the survey that 47% to 50% of Zamboanga’s population also do not accept the vaccination program. “Halos todo no quiere recibi con el vaccine contra Covid,” she said. 

“The DOH should institutionalize its vaccination program nationwide to ensure its acceptability by the people, efficacy of the vaccines and all other doubts, apprehensions are properly addressed,” she said.

Climaco has signed a $2 million (or roughly P100 million) deal with British-Swedish multinational pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca for the purchase of some 410,000 doses of Covid vaccines. 

She said the vaccines are good for some 205,000 residents, but there is at least P100 million more for the acquisition of additional vaccines from other pharmaceutical companies, including Johnson & Johnson. 

Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna have also their own Covid vaccines and so are Russia with its Sputnik and China’s Sinovac and Sinopharm. 

Climaco, head of the local task force on Covid-19, signed the agreement with AstraZeneca based on the approved authorization of the City Council. The local government’s vaccination program will cover 694,696 residents or 70% of the projected 2021 population of 992,423 inhabitants. 

The initial P200 million for the purchase of the vaccines are included in the P4.38-billion 2021 Executive Budget of the local government, according to Climaco, who is also a member of the Committee on Vaccine Availment of the League of Cities of the Philippines.

She said the local government has been closely coordinating with the national government and the Department of Health, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases, including vaccine czar Carlito Galvez, for the purchase of the Covid-19 vaccines.

The local government, she said, will prioritize healthcare workers, essential and other frontline service providers, and vulnerable populations such as the elderly and poor. (Zamboanga Post)

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