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Filipinos’ improved vaccine confidence

In just a few months, so much has changed with how Filipinos perceive vaccination. Around 66 percent of adult Filipinos are willing to get Covid-19 vaccine if it is available now, according to a private pollster that conducted the survey in September 2020. This is higher than the 42 percent who were willing to get vaccinated with Dengvaxia surveyed a year before by the same polling firm.

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In just a few months, so much has changed with how Filipinos perceive vaccination. Around 66 percent of adult Filipinos are willing to get Covid-19 vaccine if it is available now, according to a private pollster that conducted the survey in September 2020. This is higher than the 42 percent who were willing to get vaccinated with Dengvaxia surveyed a year before by the same polling firm.

This proves to be true, as we have witnessed in the past few months since we started our national vaccination program in March. It seems many Filipinos had a change of heart in getting a Covid vaccine shot, as many were soon queuing in vaccination centers to get themselves inoculated.

The same kind of vaccine confidence was displayed during the trial rollout of the Sputnik V vaccine from Russia. I was in Parañaque on Tuesday, 4 May, with National Task Force Against Covid-19 (NTF) Chief Implementer and Vaccine Czar Secretary Carlito Galvez during the pilot rollout of Sputnik V, and I was amazed at the number of people who showed up at the Ayala Malls Manila Bay to get their Covid vaccine shot.

The same turnout was also seen in Manila, Makati, Taguig and Muntinlupa — the five cities that were identified for the pilot rollout of the Sputnik V vaccine. These cities have the ready cold storage facilities that meet the storage and handling requirements of the vaccine.

In Makati, the trial rollout of Sputnik V was held at the Makati Coliseum and was witnessed by NTF Deputy Chief Implementer and Testing Czar Secretary Vivencio “Vince” Dizon with Makati City health officers. In the City of Manila, the rollout of Sputnik V was done at the Sta. Ana Hospital and was witnessed by Department of Health (DoH) Secretary Francisco Duque III and other DoH officials.

Meanwhile, in Taguig, the pilot rollout was done at the city’s Lakeshore vaccination facility, while in Muntinlupa, it was held at the Ospital ng Muntinlupa and at the Asian Hospital and Medical Center.

The 15,000 doses of Sputnik V vaccines, which arrived on 1 May, form part of our trial order with Gamaleya Institute to access our logistical, storage and handling capabilities for this kind of vaccine that requires a specific temperature requirement. Sputnik V requires negative 18 degrees temperature.

According to Sec. Galvez, the trial run for the Sputnik V vaccine is important to determine possible challenges that may arise before the actual rollout of the remaining 485,000 Sputnik V doses that are expected to arrive this month. Sec. Galvez said the Philippines was able to secure a total of 10 million doses of the Russian-made vaccine.

Our Vaccine Czar also noted that for vaccines like Sputnik V that require very specialized handling, the pilot rollout can be considered a success if there is no vaccine wastage, if the uptake is high, there are no adverse effects, and if there will be favorable possible clinical effect.

With the expected arrival of millions of doses of Covid vaccines this May, the national government is increasing its target number of vaccinees for this month to two million from the previous one million monthly average since the vaccination program started.

And with the increasing vaccine confidence that Filipinos continue to show, plus the continued effort of the national government to secure more vaccine doses, we are more confident that we will be able to achieve herd immunity and win in our battle against Covid-19.

Meanwhile, for those who are still hesitant to get that much-needed Covid jab, or for those still waiting for their preferred vaccine brand, let me remind you of what the experts say: the best vaccine is the one that is in your arm now. If you are already eligible to get that shot, take it now to protect yourself and others.

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