No vaccine, no dim sum

Published January 13, 2022, 6:00 PM

by Manila Bulletin

Should the Philippines follow Hong Kong’s example to ramp up its vaccination drive?

At this point when being vaccinated is important not only for individuals but for the entire community, one ponders what the Philippine government could do to convince more and more Filipinos to get inoculated?

In China, not allowing the unvaccinated to enter dim sum restaurants was an effective push for a huge percentage of the elder population to get jabbed. The story sounds far-fetched but it’s true. Chinese citizens proved how much they valued the dish when the elderly rushed to get inoculated after Hong Kong officials announced a scheme that would require people to show proof of vaccination to enter a dim sum restaurant. With the Lunar New Year coming up, Hongkongers made it their urgent business to flock to vaccination sites.

Part of Chinese custom is serving dim sum in the late morning to lunchtime, when it is typically partnered with tea. Who knew that it was this culinary custom that would get the people of Hong Kong to start caring more about protecting themselves and each other against the spread of COVID-19?

cooked rice

To think that before the planned regulation, incentives from the private sector, such as cash handouts, rent-free flats, and vouchers, proved ineffective in convincing people to get immunized.

Could you picture what it would be like in the Philippines if the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases Resolutions (IATF) or the government, in particular, were to follow suit and allow only those fully vaccinated to dine out? While vaccination cards are required upon entry at some restaurants in the Philippines, particularly in Metro Manila, unvaccinated people are still allowed to dine al fresco, if an outdoors area is available. Would it make a difference if the unvaccinated were totally banned from dining out?

And if a ban on a certain food item would convince people to get injected? What would food item be? My guess is rice, the heart of every Filipino meal. Breakfast, lunch, or dinner is never complete without rice. At any time of the day and on whatever occasion a bowl of carbs is always present. That is why it would really be hard to imagine mealtimes without this staple. That would truly be a nightmare for the Filipino people.

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As of writing, 48.2 percent of the Philippine population are fully inoculated. Despite all the reminders, advertisements, and public service announcements regarding the effectiveness and safety of COVID-19 vaccines, many still refuse to get protected. But, as in the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918-1920, when vaccination went from optional to compulsory, the COVID crisis is making it clear that vaccination is our only way out. No one is safe until we all are, which is to say that each of us needs to be protected by the vaccine.

Just think of all the rice that would be wasted if only the vaccinated could help themselves to it!

Just think of all the rice that would be wasted if only vaccinated Filipinos could help themselves to it. Kidding aside, if we care about our loved ones, ourselves, and the country, especially now that the Philippine government is eyeing to vaccinate 90 million Filipinos by the end of June 2022, we should all help by making it our personal mission to sway anti-vaxxers to get jabbed. This would be a great help not only for the Philippines but the whole world in our fight against this rampaging coronavirus.

Pam Rapal