Vaccination: A responsibility

Published March 7, 2021, 12:00 AM

by Dr. Jun Ynares


Dr. Jun Ynares
Dr. Jun Ynares

“How did it feel?”

That was the question a lot of excited people asked a health front-liner last Thursday.

Her name is Dr. Concepcion Lat – an Antipoleña and Antipolo City’s chief city health officer.

Dr. Lat recently made history by being the first health frontliner living and serving outside of Metro Manila to receive the vaccine against the COVID 19 virus.

She was generous enough to allow us to be part of history by giving us the honor of administering the vaccine to her.

As we write this column, there were two vaccinees who experienced minor reactions but there had been no reported serious adverse effect resulting from the administering of the vaccine. The only “adverse” effect, it appears, is her instant celebrity status.

After Dr. Lat’s turn, almost 300 health workers in Antipolo City are scheduled to receive the vaccine initially.

Last Thursday’s event is a breakthrough milestone. It is now on record that on the 4th of March, 2021, an antidote to a deadly scourge has become a reality to many people in Antipolo City. In less than a year, the world has found an answer to the pandemic. We can now fight back and raise our hopes that our lives may return to normal in the not-too-distant future.

In the meantime, there appears to be a debate going on in certain circles regarding the administration of the vaccine.

The issue is this: Is access to the vaccine a right or a privilege?

We heard some say this is a “right” since this is properly classified under the “Right to Life” and the “Right of Social Service” in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

They also point out that the purchase of the vaccine is funded by taxpayers’ money. As such, citizens have the right to access it and use it for their welfare and well-being.

If it is a right, then the state is under legal obligation to obtain the vaccine, make it available and grant every citizen access to it.

We heard some say it is merely a privilege granted by the state to its citizens. As such, the state is under no legal obligation to ensure availability and access.

Following this viewpoint, it would appear that whatever the national government and local governments are doing now, they are merely going out of their way in the performance of public service. This would make the vaccination effort an act of generosity on the part of government. This would also mean that citizens may not demand and are left on their own to look for the antidote to the deadly disease.

We said we do not wish to be drawn into this debate.

Our view is this: more than just being a right or a privilege, the distribution and administration of the vaccine is a responsibility.

For a citizen to present himself for vaccination and actually receive it is a responsible act.

Being vaccinated is part of our responsibility to our families, to our community and even to ourselves.

We each have a responsibility to contribute to the eventual eradication of this disease. We all have a responsibility to help in the global aspiration to put an end to the pandemic.

Our best and biggest individual contribution would be getting ourselves vaccinated.

We understand the reservation and hesitation of some to getting vaccinated. This, we must respect. Yet, we must exhaust all means to show doubters proof that getting the vaccine is – by far – a much-better option than having no means of defense at all against the virus.

The most common basis for the hesitation is doubt – doubts over the efficacy and safety of the available vaccines. Most of the doubts have already been addressed by health experts.

Among them are the United States Center for Disease Control (CDC). In its bid to battle cynicism over the vaccine, the CDC has put forward the following advice.

First, vaccines are carefully evaluated in clinical trials and are approved only if proven that they substantially make it less likely that one would get the disease.

Second, having the vaccine assures one that one would not get seriously ill even if one gets the virus.

Third, the vaccine is the safer way to build immunity against the disease – safer than getting the disease first and acquiring the immunity as a result.

Fourth, getting the vaccine helps protect the people around you from getting the disease, too.

From our vantage point, we see that the clamor for the vaccine far exceeds the hesitation to get it.

This is a good development. The sooner we can get the vaccine to a greater number of people, the earlier we can restart and reboot the economy.

March 4. What a blessed day.

May more blessed days be ahead of us.

*For feedback, please email it to [email protected] or send it to Block 6 Lot 10 Sta. Barbara 1 cor. Bradley St., Mission Hills Subd., Brgy. San Roque, Antipolo City, Rizal.