Health group seeks community-based COVID-19 vaccine info drive to boost public confidence

A hospital in Pasig City simulates the flow of COVID-19 vaccination and possible unique scenarios in a drill on February 18, 2021, as it awaits the arrival of the vaccines for its health care workers and allied partners. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA – A health advocacy group on Friday sought a beefed up information drive about the COVID-19 vaccines to boost public confidence on vaccination. 

This, after a recent study showed that only 19 percent of adult Filipinos were willing to get themselves vaccinated against COVID-19.

Josh San Pedro, co-convenor of the Coalition for People’s Right to Health, said the study’s result was “really concerning” because the government’s target is to inoculate 70 percent of the population. 

He added that while having leaders receive the vaccine in public could inspire them to also “vicariously trust in the vaccination, more has to be done to convince the populace. 

“There has to be a better sense of communication. It’s not also just finding somebody who will join in the uncertainty of being vaccinated,” he told ANC’s Headstart.

“It boils down to our communication skills at the level of the community because this is where a lot of people are not getting information. Of course, there’s information online, on television, but it’s another thing to really go down to the communities and to ensure that the information is there,” he said.

San Pedro said a lot of the “anxiety” surrounding the coronavirus jabs is rooted in this lack of communication and the “continuing trauma on vaccination issues in the past.” 

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“There has to be a community-level effort in increasing vaccine confidence, and that involves transparency, that involves proper communication, and that involves people putting that information where it is accessible,” he said.

The survey, conducted by OCTA Research, also showed that nearly half of adult Filipinos, or 46 percent, said they will not have themselves vaccinated, even if a safe and effective vaccine is available. The other 35 percent said they are still undecided.

The respondents mostly expressed concern about the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine, with 73 percent of respondents citing safety of the vaccine as their main concern. They are also concerned about its efficacy, with 29 percent of them saying they’re unwilling to get vaccinated because of this.

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