We live in truly remarkable times when a global pandemic effectively paralyzes the world, but scientists race to create a vaccine against a deadly virus in a record six months. Vaccines usually take five to ten years at the very least to develop, so the speed with which the various coronavirus vaccines, quite understandably, raises not a few questions.
To take or not to take?
A year into the pandemic, with significant swathes of the global population already vaccinated or preparing to be vaccinated, some countries have seen a notable drop in hospital admissions and deaths due to COVID-19. Why is there still a resistance to the vaccine among certain quarters?
I asked my driver the other day whether he would take the vaccine, which I would pay for if his barangay didn’t offer it to residents for free. He hemmed and hawed and said, I don’t know.
My helper also said she wasn’t sure whether she’d consent to be vaccinated.A few days before, she had marveled at how her friend, an OFW in Israel, had already received her second dose.But, she added, what about the Filipina OFW in Dubai who got both shots, came back home to the Philippines, and developed COVID-19?
I honestly don’t understand where this hesitation is coming from. Still, anti-vaxxers seem to have instilled a wariness in many people, despite the obvious and empirically proven effectiveness of vaccines in eradicating the disease.
There is also the issue of mistrust in the government’s credibility, largely due to the Dengvaxia scandal. But that is a failure of competence and communication, not necessarily of the vaccine itself.
And the same thing will happen again with the COVID vaccine if the government keeps bungling everything up.
My driver said that he wanted to wait and see first before deciding whether to take the vaccine. Wait and see is something of a disingenuous stalling tactic here. Wait for and see what, exactly? For case numbers to spike and deaths to shoot up? Or wait for the vaccine to fail? Or wait for COVID to get him?
As for my helper, I asked her if she’d been vaccinated as a child.
“Yes, of course,” she replied.She’d had all the vaccines as a child – polio, BCG, measles, mumps, rubella, as well as diphtheria, whooping cough, and typhoid.
“Did you ever get polio? Or mumps? Or typhoid?”
“No, of course not.I was vaccinated.”
“So why won’t you take the COVID vaccine?”
“My sister-in-law told me that Bill Gates would insert a microchip into us when we get the vaccine.”
Why do people choose to believe superstition over science?
Her reasoning made me wonder what supplemental information Bill Gates might want to harvest from a microchip being inserted into every person that Facebook or any other social media platform hasn’t already made you hand over so willingly.
We’re talking about global health and safety here.I think that everyone – with the possible exception of Republicans and other COIVD deniers – wants a return to some semblance of normal, a world they can navigate with a sense of security that comes with being protected beyond wearing masks and staying six feet away from each other.
Even the Pope has put his trust in the science behind the vaccines and by now would have taken his first dose at the very least. Considering Pope Francis’ advanced age, he certainly falls into the vulnerable category.
However, more than trust in science, the Pope points out the community aspect inherent in the fight against COVID.
“I believe that morally everyone must take the vaccine,” he said in an interview on Italian television.“It is the moral choice because it is about your life but also the lives of others.”
This is why achieving herd immunity is so important.As I told my helper, the vaccine may not totally prevent you from getting Covid-19, although the chances are extremely rare. Still, it will almost certainly be a mild case requiring no hospitalization and will almost certainly not lead to death.
What if they brought in a vaccine and no one wanted it?
This is, unfortunately, a loaded question. Not content with being one of the two countries with the worst-performing economies, the Philippines is also the last country in Southeast Asia to receive the vaccines. The arrival of a COVID vaccine on our shores should normally be cause for relief and a certain measure of jubilation.The fact that it’s the Chinese vaccine Sinovac has not exactly elicited much enthusiasm. Even medical personnel aren’t exactly queuing up to get their jabs of Sinovac.
If only China didn’t have a reputation for the shameless manufacture of fakes… If only China hadn’t tried to suppress the very first reports of coronavirus infections… If only China had been more transparent with the WHO… Then perhaps people would be more comfortable about taking Sinovac. It’s telling that the government has told frontliners that they are not obliged to take Sinovac if they prefer another vaccine brand.
It’s also telling that my staff is adamantly opposed to taking the Chinese vaccine either.