Hontiveros: Vaccine hesitancy still a ‘threat’ to public health, economy

Published March 1, 2021, 5:38 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senator Risa Hontiveros said the people’s fear of vaccination is still a threat to the country’s health and economic situation even as the government started Monday the inoculations against the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Sen. Risa Hontiveros
(Senate of the Philippines / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

The opposition senator said this as she urged authorities to also work on addressing this for the success of the national COVID-19 immunization program.

‘The challenge of vaccine hesitancy remains to be one of the biggest threats to our health and economy. The DOH and IATF must treat vaccine hesitancy as a public health emergency. Our efforts will be in vain if no one wants to get vaccinated,” Hontiveros said in a statement.

“Matapos ang ‘first day high’ sa unang turok, siguraduhin nating may sapat at akmang supply ng vaccine na darating para sa lahat at angkop sa bawat isa; may sapat na kaalaman at training ang ating mga vaccinator at handa ang ating health system na tumugon sa anumang kumplikasyon dulot ng bakuna (After the ‘first day high’ on the first injection of the vaccines, we should make sure that there is enough supply of vaccines that is appropriate for all; that our vaccinators have the proper knowledge and training; and that our health system is prepared to respond to any complications brought about by the vaccines),” she said.

Hontiveros added: ”This is one of the only ways we can earn the public’s trust.” 

Hontiveros also cited the need for “full disclosure of information” by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about the vaccines. An organized health screening and profiling of eligible vaccinees is likewise necessary, she also noted.

It would also help, she added, if “Malacañang would be rsponsible in its statements” to boost the public confidence on the vaccines.

“Simple lang naman ang hanap ng publiko: siguradong ligtas, mabisa at darating sa tamang oras (Our people are simply asking that the vaccines be safe, effective and will arrive on time),” she said.

For the vaccine rollout, the Philippines is currently using the Sinovac vaccines donated by the Chinese government.

“A new and better normal will remain a dream if the DOH and IATF does not do all that they can to regain vaccine trust on a massive scale immediately,” Hontiveros said.

She urged the government to finish up the negotiations for the purchase of COVID-19 jabs to ensure the country’s vaccine supply.