A recent Social Weather Stations survey that showed only 32 percent of Filipinos would “definitely” get the Covid-19 vaccine while another 34 percent would “probably” have themselves vaccinated could add another issue to the government’s highly-touted vaccination program.
The survey results indicate that public confidence in vaccination needs a boost but public officials haven’t done much but challenge each other to take the Covid-19 vaccine once it is available in the country.
The World Health Organization estimates that for herd immunity against the coronavirus to kick in, 60 to 70 percent of the population should be inoculated.
The proposal for public officials to be the first to get vaccinated follows the offer of former United States presidents Barack Obama, George Bush and Bill Clinton to be vaccinated to help increase public trust in the vaccine. In the Philippines, such an offer by public officials may also help but Filipinos have to be convinced that they are doing it for the right reasons, which is to boost public confidence in vaccination and not to be the first in line.
Available doses will be limited in the coming months and probably most of 2021, so those who are given the vaccine should be the ones who will have the greatest impact in society. Public officials who can boost confidence in the vaccination program and health workers that are the most vulnerable to Covid-19 should be among the first to receive the vaccine.
Our government has put a lot of hope in vaccination as a solution to the Covid-19 pandemic but as the reality of an effective and widely available vaccine approaches, we are seeing more problems pop up. Aside from securing a supply of the approved vaccines, urgent issues concerning storage, logistics and distribution have not yet been adequately addressed. Additionally, public confidence in a Covid-19 vaccine will also have to be increased for any vaccination program to be effective and herd immunity to kick in.
It is becoming painfully obvious after nine months that simply waiting for a vaccine is not a solution. Any successful vaccination program, especially against a disease as infectious as Covid-19, will require a lot more effort from our government than just empty talk and waiting. Filipinos who have no choice but to count on their government during a pandemic can only hope that our public officials have been able to formulate a plan after almost one year of waiting for the solution that was supposed to save us.*