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Get vaccinated, be protected

A vaccine is the key to getting our normal lives back — one that is not spent in hiding because of quarantine.

Harry Roque

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We are finally seeing a ray of hope. With the availability of vaccines against the dreaded coronavirus, it will not be long before the world will be back again to the way it was.

Filipinos will not have to wait long as well, as the first 50,000 doses of the Sinovac vaccine will arrive in the country next month. Aside from Sinovac, the Philippines has also signed a term sheet agreement for 30 million doses of Covovax, which is expected by the third quarter of the year.

According to vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., the Philippines has now secured over 100 million vaccine doses that were negotiated at a lower price or the same price offered to the COVAX facility. COVAX prices are 300 percent lower than published market prices, Secretary Galvez said.

Our vaccination chief also encouraged Filipinos to look beyond brand names and to get immunized with the vaccines that will be made available to them to get themselves and their loved ones protected against the coronavirus.

Regardless of brand names, our experts assure us that all vaccines that will come to the country will undergo the same rigorous regulatory review procedures. Therefore, any vaccine that gets Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) approval or those that will be used in clinical trials that will be conducted here in the country, are guaranteed safe and effective.

In one of my latest press briefings, Department of Health Undersecretary Dr. Maria Rosario Vergeire said that once a vaccine gets EUA approval from our Food and Drug Administration, then it gets on equal footing with any other vaccine concerning it being safe and efficacious. This is why Dr. Vergeire said that regardless of which vaccine comes first, we should be confident to receive it.

Dr. Vergeire explained as well that during the vaccination process, each individual will be given information on what kind of vaccine they will get, what will be its beneficial effects, and what will be the possible side effects before they will be asked to sign a consent for immunization.

Also in one of my press briefings, Dr. Lulu Bravo, a vaccinologist and executive director of the Philippine Foundation for Vaccination, assured there should be nothing to be scared of in the vaccination process or in the vaccines. Dr. Bravo said that vaccines undergo a stringent evaluation and selection process to ensure safety and efficacy before they get approved by any regulatory agency.

No vaccine will guarantee 100 percent efficacy or zero adverse effects, said Dr. Bravo. That is why it is important as well to have experts that will monitor individuals after getting vaccinated. She assured us that we already have in place an adverse events protocol on vaccines, as well as a group of vaccine experts that make up the National Adverse Events Following Immunization Committee.

Dr. Bravo also warned against listening to the commentaries of fake vaccine experts or those who did not take further studies on vaccines or who have not been studying vaccines for a long time, as they do not fully know vaccines and vaccination that well. She encouraged Filipinos to only listen to true vaccine experts like herself who can give the right advice on the benefits of getting vaccinated.

I have said many times that a vaccine is the key to getting our normal lives back — one that is not spent in hiding because of quarantine, where we would not need to wear masks and face shields, and where we can have social interactions once again without fear.

This scenario can only be achieved if we get herd immunity, which will happen only if 70 to 80 percent of our population gets vaccinated against the coronavirus.

So once a vaccine comes, and you are given the chance to receive it, do not hesitate. It is much better to be vaccinated to be protected than to catch the virus and endanger yourself and your loved ones. As His Holiness Pope Francis said, “I believe that morally everyone must take the vaccine. It is the moral choice because it is about your life but also the lives of others.”

Ingat buhay para sa ating mga mahal sa buhay.

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