An expert on Saturday underscored the need for heightened information campaign amid the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showing Filipinos are still divided on the government’s evaluation on the safety and efficacy of vaccines against coronavirus disease.
In an interview over DZMM, Philippine Foundation for Vaccination executive director Dr. Lulu Bravo said based on the studies conducted in Indonesia, Thailand, and Chile that AstraZeneca and Sinovac vaccines were proven effective and safe against COVID-19.
“The information campaign is still not enough to convince the citizenry that the vaccines are safe and effective,” Bravo said.
Bravo added that based on the study conducted by the National Adverse Events Following Immunization, only three percent of the more than three million Filipinos vaccinated experienced side effects.
“We are monitoring and we so far, we have yet to record serious side effects, like stroke, being hospitalized that are directly connected after being vaccinated,” Bravo said.
Bravo noted that the three percent side effects being reported is smaller compared to the average 10 percent adverse effects of normal vaccines being used in the country.
“Of the three percent reported side effects, among those reported incidents include fever, chills, body ache, and increase in blood pressure,” Bravo noted.
“At least two percent of those reported are from AstraZeneca and only one percent are from Sinovac,” she added.
Bravo also expressed belief that many of those vaccinated who experienced side effects chose not to report since they only experienced mild symptoms.
“This means they did not give importance since the side effects are mild and can be disregarded,” she noted.
Bravo said that based on the studies in Thailand and Chile, AstraZeneca and Sinovac vaccines were proven effective in producing anti-bodies necessary against COVID-19.
“In Indonesia, at least 20 million were already vaccinated with Sinovac and health experts noted a decrease in the number tested positive for COVID-19 and in Chile, at least 40 million were already vaccinated with Sinovac and the efficacy factor of the vaccine is at 80 percent,” she said.
For his part, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said the at present, the government is averaging 200,000 daily vaccination.
“Our vaccination drive improved and we hope this will continue as more vaccines are expected to arrive in the following days,” Malaya said.
On Friday, SWS released its first quarter survey showing 51 percent of Filipinos are confident in the government’s evaluation on the COVID vaccines, while 33 percent remain undecided while 17 percent are not confident.
For his part, Vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr. said that the Philippines recorded its highest daily vaccination rate after 229,769 vaccine doses were recorded on 20 May, breaking its previous highest record of 120,529 jabs on 15 May.
“We are very happy with this milestone, as we were able to double the number of jabs in less than a week. I am very confident that with the current pace that we have, we can breach the four million mark by early next week,” Galvez said.
Galvez added that as of 20 May, a total of 3,718,308 doses have been administered nationwide to priority groups A1 (healthcare workers), A2 (senior citizens), and A3 (persons with comorbidities).
Early this month, Galvez said the government is eyeing to administer at least two million shots in May following the steady arrival of anti-COVID vaccines.
This target is twice the total number of shots administered in March and April.
“We are now moving past the crawl stage as we begin to walk. However, this is not yet enough as our main goal is to run, where we will be able to administer at least half a million doses or more daily. And I am certain that if we keep this momentum, along with the continuous delivery of vaccines to throughout the country, we can make this happen,” Galvez said.
“The pace of the ongoing vaccination we are witnessing right now is unprecedented. We are happy to see that all sectors of society are working together to achieve our common goal of herd immunity by the end of November. The national government, local governments, and the private sector are one in ensuring that we are able to build back a better Philippines. By June, we will expect to have higher outputs when we all join hands in accelerating the vaccination and open our target population from the economic and government frontliners (A4) and indigent/poor communities (A5),” Galvez added.
On Thursday, another 500,000 doses of Sinovac vaccines arrived, bringing the country’s total vaccine supply inventory to 8,279,050 since the first vaccine delivery was made in February this year.
Galvez said bulk shipments from the COVAX facility and Sputnik V are expected to arrive at the end of this month and this coming June comprising 2.2 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech and 300,000 doses of Sputnik V.
A total of 10,050,000 doses from different manufacturers are due to arrive, including the supply committed by COVAX before the 2nd quarter ends.
Moderna is making its first delivery to the country with 200,000 doses procured by the government and 50,000 doses purchased by the private sector. Astrazeneca is also set to deliver the initial supply procured by the private sector by June with 1.3 million doses.
Sinovac is shipping out 4.5 million doses to the country, where half a million shots were procured by the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Inc.
Sputnik V is also scaling up its delivery in June with atleast 2 million doses, while COVAX will be sending another two million doses of Astrazeneca.
Galvez said that by the start of the third quarter, vaccine shipments to the country are expected to increase to at least 15 to 20 million doses monthly.
“We are on track with our vaccine rollout, and we can assure the public that as we scale up our vaccine procurement, we are also ramping up our vaccination rate. Through this, we can all have a better Christmas this year,” Galvez said.
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