Robredo laments vaccine brand hesitancy

Published August 8, 2021, 2:44 PM

by Raymund Antonio

Vice President Leni Robredo on Sunday, August 8, said that many residents in her home province of Camarines Sur have a preferred COVID-19 vaccine brand.

Vice President Leni Robredo (Jansen Romero/Manila Bulletin)

During her weekly radio show, “BISErbisyong Leni,” the vice president noted that some senior citizens backed out from the line when they learned that there were no more single-shot Johnson & Johnson Janssen vaccines available.

Although she did not say which vaccine the supposed recipients refused, she compared the brand hesitancy in her province with those who received Sinovac doses from her Vaccine Express in Manila, as well as her own staff and the country’s medical frontliners.

“Kung hindi namimili, mas marami sana ang mabakunahan. Pero kailangan harapin na mayroong ganun para maayos natin paano natin kukumbinsihin (If they are not being choosy, more will be vaccinated. But we need to face that is an issue so we can fix how we can convince them),” Robredo said.

She was in Naga City for NagaVax Express last month while she oversaw IrigaVax Express from August 6 to 7. Both were follow-up sorties of her Vaccine Express initiative in Manila that aims to help the local government units (LGUs) boost their vaccination capacity.

READ: Robredo starts Vaccine Express for seniors in Iriga City

The “reality” is, according to Robredo, the “brand matters” for some people as she saw personally in her two vaccination rollout initiatives.

“Meron pa sanang supply pero marami iyong umayaw noong nalaman nila naubos na iyong Janssen. So, sayang na sayang kami (There was still a supply but many refused when they learned that there were no more Janssen. So, it’s really a loss for us),” she said.

The lady official stressed it is important to understand this issue, so leaders can plan the best “communication plan” to convince others that they need to get whatever brand of vaccine is available.

For her part, Robredo said she tries to make recipients understand that the vaccine brand should not matter.

“Tingin ko nga, dapat walang hesistancy sa kahit anong brand. Kailangan nating ayusin ang communication plan (I think there should be no brand hesitancy. We need to fix the communication plan),” she added.

READ: ‘All vaccines work’: PH opposes COVID-19 vax brand discrimination

Although Sinovac comprises half of the total vaccine doses delivered to the country, there was apprehension about it from the start because its pharmaceutical company failed to be transparent with its clinical phase 3 trial results.

Filipinos are more inclined to choose Western-made vaccines such as AstraZeneca, Pfizer, and Moderna. This is fueled by the alleged vaccine discrimination practice of some countries that reportedly accept only Western-made brands while those inoculated with Sinovac have to be quarantined for weeks.

But with the threat of the more transmissible and contagious Delta variant, health experts have been calling on Filipinos to get themselves vaccinated with whatever brand of COVID-19 vaccine is available.