As the country prepares for the rollout of its mass vaccination program for COVID-19, an expert urged the public Thursday “not to be scared” of vaccines since these are proven effective against many illnesses.
“The fear of vaccines is as old as the vaccines themselves,” said internationally recognized expert Dr. Charles Yu during the press briefing with presidential spokesperson Harry Roque.
“But we need to get our act together and do this for the greater good and for the progress of our country,” he added.
Yu, who is currently the Vice Chancellor for Research at the De La Salle Health Sciences Institute (DLSHSI), explained how vaccines work and its importance in combating various diseases including the COVID-19.
“All vaccines undergo strict criteria,” Yu said.
“In every vaccine that is developed, hundreds are rejected so we are assured that these underwent strict processes which include the regulatory ones,” he added.
Yu, past President of Philippine College of Physicians (PCP) and Philippine College of Chest Physicians (PCCP), said for the vaccination program of the government to succeed, public cooperation and participation are crucial.
“We have to trust that the available vaccines are safe and effective,” he explained. “Let’s not be scared,” he noted.
Aside from being an internationally-recognized expert on tuberculosis, Yu is also a clinician, researcher, and clinical epidemiologist.
“The vaccine has been our greatest triumph in defeating diseases,” he said.
“We have also seen how effective vaccines are in eliminating diseases,” he added.
According to a Pulse Asia survey revealed last Jan. 7, nearly half of Filipinos or 47 percent said that they would skip COVID-19 vaccine.
Yu said that vaccine hesitancy, also known as anti-vaccination or “anti-vax,” should be addressed to ensure the success of the program.
“The personal right not to afford or not to get a vaccine is trumped by the greater good,” Yu said.
“If we really want to go back to normal as soon as possible, we must support mass vaccination,” he added.
Yu also clarified that the efficacy rate of the vaccine should not be used as an overall indicator of its effectiveness.
“Let’s not look at the numbers,” he said.
“For us, doctors, more than the efficacy (rate), what’s more important is that the patient will not die and the severity of the disease will be lessened,” he added.
Roque assured that the government will also strengthen its “vaccine education” initiatives to increase the public confidence in vaccines.