COVID-19 Vaccines: Confidence vs. Reluctance

The integrity and credibility of the government's health ministers bear a significant impact on the confidence of the public towards being inoculated.

Many Filipinos remain reluctant to be inoculated with the COVID-19 vaccine, even after advance orders have already been made by the national government, local government units and the private sector with various pharmaceutical brands.

Based on a survey conducted by local pollster Pulse Asia, only about 25% percent of those aged 18 and up are willing to be vaccinated. Meanwhile, more than 25% of the 2400 total respondents said that they would not get the vaccine while 47% of respondents remain uncertain.

Many are still intrigued with the safety of the vaccines as there have been reported side effects in some countries whose populations have already been vaccinated. Furthermore, the controversy surrounding the Dengvaxia still lingers in the minds of many where more than 600 deaths were reported allegedly after they have received the Dengue vaccine.

Vaccine confidence in the Philippines is influenced by many factors.

The integrity and credibility of the government's health ministers bear a significant impact on the confidence of the public towards being inoculated. The eroding trust of the public on the DOH leadership continues to significantly affect the credibility of the recommendations by the DOH and IATF on matters concerning the vaccines. No less than the Head of the IATF, DOH Sec. Francisco Duque, has been on the hotseat for several months following his alleged missteps in the COVID-19 response of the government. 

Furthermore, the public continues to question the move of government to book 25 million doses of the Chinese vaccine Sinovac despite reports of having significant less efficacy compared to other brands based on the recent results in Brazil. Sinovac, to this date, has not applied for emergency use authorization with the country's Food and Drug Authority (FDA).

Lastly, the sample size around the world on the safety track record of COVID-19 vaccines are relatively small hence the public is still waiting for clear indications that the vaccines are safe and effective. Filipinos are thinking people; hence they would rather wait and see for the results in neighboring countries before making a decision to be vaccinated.

Being vaccinated is considered as a risky move by many Filipinos considering the lack of data to prove its effectivity across populations. It would surely help if our leaders, just like the heads of state of other countries, volunteer to be publicly vaccinated. Otherwise, people will continue to be reluctant if our leaders themselves do not exercise confidence in the vaccines they will procure.

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About the Author
Mr. Aaron Benedict De Leon is currently a Business Development Practitioner in a private consulting firm. He has more than six years of professional experience in leading and managing political and non-government organizations, specializing in organizational management, policy development and program management. He has had stints with notable political/socio-civic organizations, serving in various capacities as: Secretary-General of the Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines (CDP) [2013-2015], Founding Chairperson of the Centrist Democratic Youth Association of the Philippines (CDYAP) [2012-2014], Philippine Representative to the International Young Democrat Union (IYDU) [2011-2012], Chairperson of the Christian Democratic Youth [2011-2012], Secretary-General of YOUTH Philippines [2010-2011], and Spokesperson/Communications Director of the GT2010 Gilbert Teodoro Presidential Campaign [2009-2010].
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