Vaccination: How ready are we

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THE LATEST feedback, no less reported by the national IATF these past days, is that the much-awaited vaccines are not yet anywhere here by this time. Several kinks have come across, topped off by several issues that have remained unresolved — key of which is the absence of an Emergency Use Authorization for the vaccines to be allowed in and safely injected to willing Filipino arms.

Of course, these things happen. In the case of vaccines that will be obtained through the Novovax facility run by the World Health Organization, set up purposely to equalize opportunities for availment by developing (vs. developed) countries, these are not commercially available, but are to be turned over to the national government for distribution to pre-determined priority areas (Baguio is one).

There is at the same time the matter of indemnification that drug manufacturers are said to have asked for, probably guided by their experience with the Dengvaxia controversy years back, when scores of vaccinated kids lost their mortality. Of course, that issue will have a bearing in today’s procurement of the Covid-19 vaccines, reason why the national government relented and is now working out a speedy process of mandating, by law, indemnification for those that may become cold, unfeeling statistics.

The usual kinks may have been resolutely addressed, like a swift passage from Customs examination to getting driven to warehouses and finally to the centralized facility where dispatching and disposition get underway, as part of the overall deployment plan. Remember that no less than PRRD some weeks back had to include in his telecast routine very stern admonitions for the Customs personnel to avoid the usual strict, open the crates procedure? Let’s just see how that can be done.

Unarguably, these are still pandemic times, even if the V word these days is often heard and resonating in every nook and place hereabouts. Yes, V in this instance is the sought-after, much awaited vaccine. Yes, vaccines are what have made us agog and abuzz all this time, the long expected panacea for all the world’s troubles, and for which so much lives have gone in a snap when the pandemic struck at its mightiest early on.

Meantime, the anti-covid response has been done without letup, even more stringent than before. We may be now in the General Community Quarantine classification, as Metro Manila has been, but going by televised images of life down under, it seems that there is greater laxity over there, while major businesses seem to be engulfed in rules of greater engagement. Travel for leisure may have been eased up, for tourists desiring to visit dear ol’ Baguio allowed, but through the Visita app registration and compliance to the minimum health standards.

Just during the last weekend tourist arrivals seemed to have scaled up far better than the Christmas holiday break. More tourists came in, probably because of the 3-day reprieve from work prompted by the Chinese New Year falling on a nice Friday, and of course the heart-touching Valentines Day falling on a Sunday, an annual event that collared every possible couples and families in the throes of suppressed excitement.

This weekend, beginning today, the cooling climes would be an added, if not main, allure for travelers to come up. It’s 9 degrees C on a Friday, cruising to a cool control all the way to Sunday, enough to make lowlanders everywhere else hasten for a quick staycation up here. If that’s an indication, then local tourism is giving our sundered industry, from the Big Bosses to the rest of tourist service crews the Big Boost prayed for all this time.

For us to get back in our life, we do have to do everything possible to get past the crisis of our times. No ifs and buts there. What good indeed is Buhay without Kabuhayan? It’s a rallying cry we’ve been bombarded with since way way back. Fine, let’s stay safe, secured, and alive, but never forget the means to live for. Fine, let’s keep on abiding by the minimum health standards — mask, hugas, iwas — besieging us in every turn, but keep the economy open, bit by bit, even in so painstakingly slow a manner. Give back jobs that have been lost. Activate businesses that have sputtered or closed down. Open up more jobs and livelihood opportunities. Make the economy hum anew, first to fourth gear if need be. But keep it going.

Certainly, life can only get back on track, with greater confidence on our part if the awaited vaccines are finally here and have no difficulty on being injected into willing arms. Hopefully, the climate of hesitance, of reluctance, even of outright denial will have dissipated in time, as we begin vaccinating the sectors vested with right to be first on the line. Hopefully, from the pre-registration now going on through our health district centers and even online shall have drawn in the 51% all willing to have it, and at the very least, to make the hesitant move into the willing column of the registry.

For that to happen in the next several days, it should do well for an all of society response to take place. Fine, let’s make ready for the vaccines, fine-tune the preparations on the ground, prep ed the places where the vaccines shall first be stored in their respective freezing levels, ready up the places where the vaccination shall take place. But, at day’s end, if only 30% of the targeted sectors shows up, then the vaccine hesitance is real and daunting.

Public information of the scale that seeks to overturn a negative attitude has to be done with consistency, with constancy, and with communication made on-target to the audience we seek. In this instance, the level of motivational information must be carried out by influencers from people that matter when it comes to reach and coverage.

Let’s face it, for nearly a year now, we have looked forward to getting the vaunted vaccines. Now that they’re practically enroute, how come the registration in most localities, undoubtedly including us here, to get the first shot isn’t causing much of a stir. A locality down under of about 400,000 souls merely shows about 50,000 getting listed up. Hardly encouraging.

Belated as it may seem, there’s still time to do just that, by the concerted collaboration between the public and the private sectors. For this to work, it’s best for the private sectors to take the lead, showcasing that community spirit of finding the resilient, protective ways of safeguarding the population’s health and wellbeing. Nothing less can do more.

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