Decisions, decisions

21-Jan-2021 Intellasia | PhilStar | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Without a doubt, the biggest issue on everyone’s mind this 2021 is the upcoming vaccination programme. That, and choosing how and when to get vaccinated against COVID-19. While the news of available vaccines is good, the problem of availability and transparency remain. Not to mention talk of the vaccine may have had an impact on how people conduct themselves and their safety protocols.

No doubt the country has had one of the longest and strictest quarantines in the world. We all lived through it in 2020 and I do not fault anyone for being tired of such stringent measures. Plus, businesses need to reopen and the economy needs the push to be able to recover. People have to go back to work to earn a living and put food on the table. I wouldn’t begrudge anyone these basic necessities for life.

But how it currently stands, many Filipinos are doing more than just the basic living and necessities. COVID fatigue, as expected, has set in for so many and people are attempting to do normal activities enjoyed before the pandemic. We’ve been seeing more people talking about their “bubble” and testing so that they can travel and plan big events. It’s become commonplace on social media to see parties and gatherings now with the only visible precaution being masks if at all.

It’s a very sensitive topic and there is no way of knowing who is practicing what safety protocol and when and where, but the fact remains that as more and more Filipinos strive to get back to some form of “normal” and forget to be careful, there will be a big possibility that the virus will spiral out of control again. As yet, we aren’t seeing the full impact of holiday gatherings, but I have to wonder if that’s because people were careful or because testing has slowed down?

That has always been a problem in the Philippines. We don’t have a clear picture of our situation because our testing and reporting capabilities aren’t at all where they should be. While more and more establishments are open for COVID testing, are these test results being reported regularly? How is the government keeping track of cases in underprivileged areas where people are back out on the streets walking around without masks? How will we know the severity of our situation if we don’t have a clear picture of the numbers?

I worry that impending vaccines coupled with general COVID fatigue have made people forget or overlook certain protocols and that’s very dangerous. This is especially true with the new strain of COVID already in the country. While this new strain doesn’t appear more dangerous per se, it is definitely easier to catch and comes with a higher viral load. That means a bigger and faster spread which could result, once again, in our healthcare sector getting overwhelmed.

But again, we can’t live forever in isolation. It’s bad not only for businesses and the economy but also for people’s mental health. The children and the elderly especially have been stuck inside for almost one whole year. They are more vulnerable so it’s understandable that they should not be exposed however the longer it takes for everyone to collectively get vaccinated and ensure communal safety the longer it will be before they can safely venture outside again.

There is still so much that needs to be done and we can’t lose sight of the goal. With potential requirements such as “vaccine passports” potentially needed for travel, work, or even school in 2021 and beyond, we can’t fall too far behind the inoculation programmes already in motion in countries around the world. This means our government has to work to bring in the vaccines and roll them out to vaccination centers.

It’s going to be an uphill battle. Especially with a large portion of Filipinos scared to get vaccinated at all and the remaining percentage not wanting to get the vaccine from China. Time will tell how we proceed from here but people are going to have to make some decisions soon that will not only impact their lives but everyone’s life collectively. It’s going to be a very important next 6-8 months.

I think the only way the government can assuage the public’s fears is to be as transparent as possible. That may sound like a big ask considering transparency is not really our government’s strong suit. This time though, it’s important for the government to truly lead by example. This means being transparent about how much they pay for each vaccine after all several vaccine companies have promised to provide vaccines without big profit margins in the interest of world healing and being extra transparent about vaccine safety.

Not all vaccines are created equal as many would like us to believe. We all need to do our own research and make the decision that we feel is best for our families. If the government is set on pushing the masses to choose vaccines from China they need to showcase the safety of these vaccines by getting themselves vaccinated first. After all, if it’s as safe as they claim, they should have no problem doing so. Now is the time to walk the talk. If they do, it’s more likely others will follow.


Category: Philippines

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