Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Tuesday urged the government to launch a nationwide information dissemination campaign to counter “fake news” and encourage Filipinos to get vaccinated against the novel coronavIrus disease (COVID-19).
He particularly said that the information drive should put emphasis on the advantages of the inoculation and the risks of not getting the vaccines. He also asked the government to prioritize urban poor communities and far-flung municipalities, “where information are muddled by scary stories of bad side effects and even deaths in a post-vaccination scenario.”
“Maraming natatakot na magpa-bakuna dahil sa mga nagkalat na haka-haka at mga balitang nagsasabi na hindi naman ito epektibo laban sa COVID-19. Maliban pa rito, hindi rin malinaw sa publiko ang magiging sistema sa pagba-bakuna. Hangga’t malabo sa isipan ng tao kung ano ang magandang maidudulot ng bakuna sa kanilang kalusugan ay mahihirapan talaga ang pamahalaan na kumbinsihin sila na makiisa sa programang ito,” Sotto said in a statement
(Many are scared to get vaccinated because there are rumors and reports that vaccines are not effective against COVID-19. Besides this, it is not clear yet to the public how the vaccination will be implemented. Until the people understand the benefits of the vaccination, the government will really have a hard time to convince them to participate in this program.)
“Alam naman natin ang impact ng tsismis at fake news lalo na sa ating mga kababayan na nakatira sa mga malalayong komunidad. Mahalagang maayos na maipaliwanag ng gobyerno na hindi makakasama sa kanila ang pagpapa-bakuna, kundi ay makakatulong ito para maproteksyunan sila laban sa COVID-19,” he added.
(We all know the impact of the rumors and fake news especially on those residing in far-flung communities. It’s important for the government to explain that the vaccination will not harm them, and will help protect them against COVID-19.)
Sotto said the Presidential Communications Operations Office “must double their efforts in both mainstream and social media”.
He said local government units could also be tapped to implement the information drive since they are familiar with their with their jurisdiction’s population profile and geography.
Medical personnel should likewise be included in the campaign due to their expertise on health, he said.
A survey conducted by OCTA Research last month showed that only one in four Metro Manila residents are willing to be inoculated against COVID-19, while 75 percent are either undecided or unwilling.
The government plans to vaccinate 50-70 million Filipino this year under its immunization program, which was set to start late February.