Iloilo Representative Janette Garin on Sunday slammed the manner by which the government announced the temporary suspension of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccines for people below 60 years old, saying it triggered more people to be hesitant to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Garin, a former health secretary, said she believed that it was inappropriate for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to make such an announcement, when the government has already ran out of doses of AstraZeneca jabs in the first place.
The House lawmaker also said making such statements when there were already thousands of people who have received their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine only brought more fear.
“Meron tayong mahigit kalahating milyon na nabakunahan na ng first dose na nilagyan mo ng kaba, takot at pangamba (We have more than half a million people who already received the first dose who are now scared and anxious),” Garin said in a Radio DZBB interview.
“Instead of promoting vaccine uptake, mas lalong lumala yung (it only worsened) vaccine hesitancy. Sa pananaw ko, masyadong mali ang timing ng announcement kasi wala namang bakuna (I think the timing of the announcement was very wrong as there are no more vaccine doses),” she pointed out.
Last Thursday, the Philippines temporarily suspended the use of AstraZeneca vaccines on individuals younger than 60 following reports of rare blood clots on overseas recipients with low platelet counts.
But FDA Chief Eric Domingo said the temporary suspension did not mean that the vaccine was unsafe or ineffective, saying that the government was just taking “precautionary measures to ensure the safety of every Filipino.”
But Garin, who is also a doctor, said the DOH and the FDA could have made a better announcement to encourage those who have received the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
“What could’ve been done, kung wala namang con sa indication na maibigay yung second dose ng mga nabakunahan na e bigyan sila (If there were no cons in the indications to give the second dose to those who have already received the first one) then give them the second dose and after that issue a carefully worded message kanino siya hindi pwede at ano ang hindi pwedeng gawin (who cannot receive and what should not be done),” the lawmaker explained.
“Yung mga ganung announcement ay dapat (That kind of statement should be) very specific, hindi yung (not) very premature. Ngayon, ang dami-dami na kasing tumatawag at nagpa-panic doon sa statement na yun (Now a lot of people are panicking, calling because of that statement), which I believe is unnecessary,” she lamented.