By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — Following the release of surveys that showed public hesitancy on receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, Senator Win Gatchalian urged the government to build public confidence on its vaccination program, which is key to putting an end to the pandemic and allowing the safe reopening of schools.
The senator called this hesitancy a result of the “Dengvaxia damage,” which eroded the public’s trust in vaccinations.
Gatchalian flagged that if half of the country would refuse to be vaccinated, the transmission of the virus will not be suppressed. For the basic education sector, this means a prolonged delay in the resumption of in-person classes for more than 22 million public school learners nationwide.
In Metro Manila alone, which is considered a virus hotspot, there are 2 million learners enrolled in public schools.
A recent nationwide Pulse Asia survey of 2,400 adults revealed that 47 percent of Filipinos would not get themselves vaccinated, 32 percent would get vaccinated, and 21 percent are undecided. Of the 2,400 adults who joined the survey, 84 percent are worried about the safety of the vaccine.
According to a survey by the University of the Philippines-OCTA Research Group, where 600 participants from Metro Manila aged 18 and above participated, only 25 percent are willing to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
The same survey revealed that 28 percent would not get the vaccine, while 47 percent are undecided.
“Magiging malaki ang problema natin kung walang magpapabakuna laban sa COVID. Hindi tayo makakabalik sa normal na pamumuhay,” Gatchalian said.
“Dapat nating tugunan ang pangamba ng ating mga mamamayan pagdating sa pagpapapabakuna upang matuldukan na natin ang krisis na ito,” the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education Arts and Culture added.
Gatchalian emphasized the need to be transparent on the potential side effects of COVID-19 vaccine shots and how these can be managed.
Gatchalian also reiterated his call to include teachers in the priority groups for the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out. The government is eyeing to inoculate 60 million Filipinos to achieve “herd immunity.” (AI/MTVN)