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Preparation for vaccination

As the government struggles to secure vaccines for as many as 70 million people this year, a recent survey has found less than a third of Filipinos willing to get inoculated against the coronavirus.

The Pulse Asia poll conducted between November 23 and December 2 found that 32 percent of 2,400 respondents would get a Covid-19 vaccine jab when available, while 47 percent would refuse it over safety concerns. The remaining 21 percent were undecided.

Nearly all of the respondents said they knew vaccines were being developed, but 84 percent were unsure of their safety, highlighting the challenges government may face in convincing Filipinos to get vaccinated.

The country has had difficulty with vaccination programs after a highly politicized and high profile scrapping of a dengue immunization program in 2017, following the vaccine’s overblown and unfounded links to child deaths. Parents have been reluctant to vaccinate their children, leading to drops in vaccination rates and ultimately an outbreak of measles and the return of polio, diseases that would otherwise have been eliminated by vaccines.

The government recently said it was negotiating with seven vaccine manufacturers to procure at least 148 million Covid-19 shots to inoculate close to two-thirds of its population. So far, the Philippines has managed to secure only 2.6 million doses from AstraZeneca and regulatory bodies have yet to approve any Covid-19 vaccine.

The country, that is among the worst hit by the coronavirus pandemic, had placed most of its faith on the development of vaccines but now that it is finally available, it turns out government has to deal with procurement issues and a vaccine-resistant population.

Preparations should have been made beforehand for both, but it would seem that no such groundwork was laid for the much-vaunted vaccination program that is supposed to make up for government’s lackluster and uninspired response to the pandemic.

As usual, our country is playing catch-up once again. As government struggles to procure the vaccine, preparations will also be needed to convince the population of the safety and efficacy of their chosen solution to the pandemic.*

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