Explain, with transparency
With surveys showing fewer than half of Filipinos willing to be vaccinated against coronavirus disease 2019, Malacañang has launched an information campaign to overcome vaccine hesitancy.
Dubbed “Explain, Explain, Explain,” the campaign kicked off last Tuesday with a town hall meeting in Mandaue City, Cebu between information officers from the Office of the President and local officials. Several local government units have placed orders for vaccines for their residents, with the inoculation campaign to be launched simultaneously by LGUs in Metro Manila, epicenter of the pandemic in the country.
The vaccines ordered by the LGUs are mostly those developed by UK pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca together with the University of Oxford. The company is offering its vaccine at a no-profit, no-loss price of about P500.
With extensive media reports about COVID vaccines approved by Western drug regulators, the government need not add too much to the information already freely available about the jabs. The information materials include the risks posed by the vaccines, especially the one made by Pfizer and BioNTech, to people who experience severe allergic reactions particularly to medication, and now the potential risks to the sickly and frail elderly.
What will require extensive explanations to overcome Filipinos’ vaccine hesitancy are the jabs apparently preferred by the Duterte administration, made by Chinese private firm Sinovac and Chinese state-owned Sinopharm. The Chinese vaccines will be distributed to the LGUs for the free inoculation of millions of residents.
Beijing has reassured the world that vaccines made in China are safe and with high efficacy. But the secrecy surrounding China’s vaccine development as well as the Philippine government’s procurement of the jabs is causing concern in this country, where the controversy over the dengue vaccine Dengvaxia is still fresh in the minds of many. The vaccination program is best explained with full transparency.