Lobaton: More than vaccine, it’s deprivation


LAST week, I attended the webinar entitled “Understanding How Covid-19 Vaccines Work,” hosted by the Institute of Philippine Culture of the Ateneo De Manila University. The resource speaker was Dr. Nina Gloriani, head of the Vaccine Development Expert Panel of the Department of Science and Technology.

The webinar was very informative and timely that it answers a lot of questions from those in attendance. It aimed to develop awareness among participants about the vaccine and tried to convince those who are still skeptical to avail of it in the future.

I believe efforts to open the minds of our people are important nowadays as we remain hopeful of the future. By this time, our people are framing up things that would exactly put them to believe they have a way out, or wait for the time that all of this will be over. But the problem is they also lack the resources to support the needs of their family should this situation continue.

Another thing is, while many support that vaccination is our last hope, we still need to convince our people to get vaccinated because it is safe. Recent surveys show that many are not inclined to take the vaccines for some reason. Maybe they are still being haunted by the issues with Dengvaxia in the past and the impression that the vaccines were made hastily.

We are also into the waiting game. As we have heard many times that vaccines will be delivered because the government previously signed agreements with manufacturers, there is still no clarity if we will be a priority. Other rich countries, even those places where these vaccines came from, still need enough supply in order to reach the level of herd immunity. Thus, there is a possibility that our vaccination could be delayed and that many things could happen.

I doubt we could start this vaccination in the soonest time possible. In the United States for example, on reports of the New York Times, they hope to vaccinate 70 to 90 percent of the population to reach herd immunity. The Philippines will probably need the same percentage of our population in order to be safe from Covid-19. So while the United States and other rich countries are also running after their supply, how soon could we have our own? Maybe just for the sake of giving in to pressures of not leaving the developing countries, some manufacturers will share with us a part of what they have committed to advanced countries.

In many situations in the past, we had seen how we stood in the community of nations. We seem to feel the discrimination as a developing country, deprived of resources, respect and yes, this time, the vaccines that we need for our people.

It is a sad reality that we will simply be left to the mercy of big countries particularly those where these vaccines are coming from. We hope to understand the same situation they are also facing but while the delay continues, we also put at risk the lives of Filipinos.

It could be true that our journey on the vaccines will depend on the vaccine program of other countries because of the supply issue. It could suggest that when they are already stable, we might have just started our full-blown vaccination particularly in the farthest of places in the country. We hope we’re still alive by then.


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