Behind the Vaccines: The unsung heroes against misinformation

Behind the Vaccines: The unsung heroes against misinformation
Philippine Red Cross Photo

The safety of every Filipino is not solely dependent on vaccines or individuals alone. To ensure everyone's safety against diseases, everyone must come together as a community and contribute to the cause.

The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) not only aims to promote the importance of vaccines in their newly launched "OK Ka Sa Bakuna" information campaign but also wants to highlight the people behind the fight against vaccine misinformation and those who extend their services to geographically isolated communities.

Among them are volunteers, doctors, nurses, and barangay health workers. They collaborate to advocate for a stronger immune system, with many emphasizing that knowledge about vaccines is key to building one.

Why are vaccines important

Helena Balaoro, a midwife from Santo Domingo, Albay, asserts that immunization strengthens a person's immune system, protecting them from sickness and, if they do fall ill, results in milder symptoms.

“It is really important to be vaccinated to strengthen your immune system. That is the relevance of immunization,” Red Cross 143 (RC143) volunteer Dhanica Dacuba said in Filipino.

Nurse Coleen Salomon Barajas, also an RC143 volunteer, strongly advises individuals not to be swayed by speculations or misinformation on vaccines. Prioritizing added protection is crucial to strengthening the immune system against transmissible and potentially life-threatening viruses.

However, despite their efforts against misinformation and speculations on vaccines, PRC volunteers as well as healthcare workers face challenges.

Vaccine hesitancy, side effects, and rumors of death linked to vaccinations are some of the reasons both PRC volunteers and healthcare workers noticed when it comes to vaccine hesitancy. 

An RC143 volunteer shares that “those who didn’t want to be vaccinated said that one of the reasons why they are hesitant is because of the side effects and the speculations spreading about people dying because of it.”

The tireless efforts of everyone in the health sector deserve commendation as they work not only to secure each person’s health and address vaccine supply shortages but also deal with speculations of people against immunization.

It is a question to ponder how these volunteers respond to people’s questions about vaccines.

For Dacuba, she explains that vaccines result from comprehensive research by experts from organizations like the World Health Organization. They also undergo rigorous examination and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval before being distributed to communities.

Dr. Filbert Gallego, Albay City Health Officer and Chairman of PRC Albay Chapter’s Blood Service Committee, assures that the vaccines they distribute are safe, having undergone thorough evaluation by experts and specialists multiple times.

However, the efforts of volunteers are not in vain because of misinformation about vaccines that they are countering. Many people have encouraged others to avail themselves of the free vaccines that the local government is offering.

RC143 volunteer Jovan Batagon shares that most people are now considering vaccines, especially those who prioritize the safety of their families and themselves.

The fight against misinformation does not end with vaccination. It also does not end for volunteers, health workers, doctors, nurses, and especially to the Department of Health.

It begins with those receiving vaccines: children, seniors, parents, siblings, and friends. This is what community involvement means— ensuring that everyone is safe and protected from misinformation.

For more information on vaccines, including availability, visit your nearest PRC Chapter or barangay health center. You may also call the PRC hotline: 143. PR


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