“They know their communities and can convince them to participate in the Covid-19 vaccination process!” This is what Congressman Alfred Vargas, Chair of the Social Services Committee of Congress, said about the impact social workers can have for a successful vaccination program. Across the nation the DSWD alone deploys more than 10,000 social workers. They can help the DOH and Secretary Galvez communicate the value and acceptance of vaccination against the coronavirus on a grass roots level.
Vaccine confidence is currently at its lowest in the Philippines after the Dengvaxia hysteria in 2017. Dr. Lulu Bravo, executive director of the Philippine Foundation for Vaccination, aired concerns that the country may not be ready yet for Covid-19 vaccination as the public is hesitant and there needs to be more done to convince them (2). This is supported by data from OCTA Research that conducted a survey showing that in Metro Manila, a Covid-19 hot spot, only 25% are willing to be vaccinated, 28% would not want to be vaccinated at all and a large proportion of 47% remains undecided (3). Recent reports on the low efficacy of the China made SinoVac/CoronaVac vaccine also contribute to the hesitancy.
Let us harness the full potential of the Social Workers Vargas said, as they are highly credible individuals respected and accepted by their communities! He has called for a meeting with the DSWD and NGO’s like the Philippine Association of Social Workers (PASWI) to plot out how the organizations can contribute and actively assist with the National Covid-19 vaccination program. Vargas also called on Secretary Galvez to declare social workers nationwide as essential frontliners in the fight against Covid-19. He also called on Secretary Martin Andanar of the PCOO, the government Agency that controls PTV4, to come out with a campaign that will help Filipinos accept the benefits of vaccination.
As for his district in Quezon City, Vargas said he is working closely with local officials to improve vaccine acceptance and the implementation of neighborhood information programs that will help the national government in the seamless implementation of the Covid-19 vaccination.
Vargas insisted: “We need to convince our people that being vaccinated is the best action to regain a sense of normalcy. This is our best path to recovery!”
Vargas is set to call for a congressional committee meeting that will include the DSWD, the private sector, PASWI, Broadcasting companies, the DOH and Covid-19 response task force members.
- Social Work in the Philippines Today
- Vaccine confidence must be restored as PH prepared of Covid-19 shots – public health expert
- OCTA survey: Only 25% of Metro Manila respondents willing to get Covid-19 vaccine
About Alfred Vargas:
Alfred Vargas was born on October 24, 1979, in San Juan, Metro Manila to Alfredo Vargas, Jr. and Atty. Susana Dumlao Vargas. He graduated A.B. Management Economics from the Ateneo de Manila. He then pursued his graduate studies at the University of the Philippines in Public Administration. He is currently the Representative of the 5th District of Quezon City