I WAS in a public market early yesterday morning scanning the front page of SunStar Superbalita newspaper displayed in a sidewalk newsstand. The main story was about the death of a baby that the child’s parents claimed was caused by a vaccine, a claim that the Department of Health said lacked proof. People who were gathered around the same newsstand didn’t believe the health department’s explanation and said they would not accept any vaccine if it is offered to them. I walked away shaking my head.
Days ago, I went to my doctor for a consultation after my blood pressure acted up again. Before I left the clinic, I asked the young doctor regarding rumors about those vaccines meant to check the spread of the coronavirus. I was waiting for word by then about the inoculation after a barangay health worker registered me for it. I am officially a senior citizen already.
“When the mass vaccination starts in your place, make sure to have yourself vaccinated,” the young doctor, a woman, said. Nagpabakuna na man ko. Wa may side effects. (I’ve been vaccinated. There are no side effects.)
I thus pitied the senior citizens who were scanning the Superbalita front page the other day with me. One of them narrated how he refused the attempt of the barangay health worker in their place to register him for vaccination. I could sense the decision has already been made: He will never have himself vaccinated.
Which reminded me that even Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. refused to have himself vaccinated when the government initially rolled out the vaccines. I don’t know what his reason was, but he did eventually get the virus. Thankfully he recovered, although I don’t know if that episode changed his mindset about vaccination.
This is not only personal to us. A certain percentage of our population need to be inoculated for us to achieve what medical practitioners call herd immunity. Vaccination and herd immunity can stop the Covid-19 pandemic. It is also everyone’s responsibility, therefore, to encourage people to have themselves vaccinated
The rollout by the government of the vaccines include post-vaccination monitoring. The monitoring is done worldwide where millions have already been vaccinated. Stories and rumors spread by anti-vaccine people have mostly been debunked by health authorities. Here, the death of the baby may not have after all been caused by a vaccine. But uninformed stories feed the intentions of anti-vaccine people.
What I am saying is that ignorance is among the enemies of our mass vaccination program. And by “ignorance” I mean the one that grips not only the uneducated but also the educated. I take it that many professionals also refuse to have themselves vaccinated. In this age of social media, misinformation and disinformation can easily be spread.
There is thus a need for awareness building on the importance of vaccination to stop the spread of the virus. And that effort needs the help of every one of us. When you hear people in the neighborhood or social media spreading lies and wrong information about the vaccines, correct them. If they persist, inform the authorities about them.