Let’s talk about it!

To be vaccinated, or not to be vaccinated, what’s your thought?

Our health department has always been our fallback during health emergencies. Even in our respective comfort zones, when we run out of first aid knowledge, we call the health department or consult with our health professionals for directions or advice at the very least. We had no better choice, no better place to seek medical attention but our local health centers, medical clinics or hospitals. We even keep a list of specialists in every field of expertise to guide us where to go for consultation. But today, many of us are in some state of perplexity whether to submit or not to submit to the worldwide call for COVID-19 vaccination.

Where has all the confidence gone? While others have easily agreed for vaccination, why is it very difficult for the rest to decide? This makes one wonder, the immunization shots we received when we were younger, how were they first introduced? Did it go through the same process? Who received the shots first? Questions like these that we thought stupid suddenly make some sense.

Here’s a thought from Dr. Yvonne S. Duque, Senior Public Health Specialist at the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC) in a group chat on messenger:

“With regards to the vaccine, if you are healthy without co-morbidities, the benefits outweigh the risk compared to being not vaccinated. If you have co-morbidities, stable or not, weigh your benefit over the risk. Maybe you would benefit from other vaccines. And if you get vaccinated, do not be complacent! You still need to follow the guidelines for prevention of Covid-19 like wearing mask, hand-washing and social distancing. Getting vaccinated does not guarantee you of not acquiring the disease”.

Dr. YS Duque is not the only person who said that having the vaccination is not a guarantee for anyone to not acquire the disease. All heads from our own local and national health department say that, too, and so they still advise all those who had the jab to continue adhering to minimum health protocols.

Last Friday, March 5, 2021 the Cordillera Vaccination Program was launched at the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center.

In his message during the launch, Baguio Lone District Representative Mark Go mentioned that all Filipinos are expected to be vaccinated within the next 6-16 months according to the Bayanihan Act 2 that Congress approved. He gave the assurance that every Filipino will be vaccinated and advised everyone to just wait.

On the same occasion, City Administrator Bonifacio dela Peña also assured the public that the local health office is 94.23% prepared as to vaccine megasites. He urged the whole citizenry of Baguio City to heed the request of the health department and get the jab.

Also during the same occasion, DILG-Cordillera OIC Regional Director Araceli San Jose convinced LGUs to be at the forefront and make sure that all kababayans, especially those in far-flung areas are vaccinated. She said that at least 70% of the whole community must be vaccinated to achieve the herd community; otherwise it will be very difficult for the country to rise again and recover.

Loud and clear, these words coming from the experts and also from our leaders sounded so profound, wholehearted and passionate. The words warned us, but also gave us hope. Yet we don’t get the message. We don’t believe them. Something just seems inaccurate.

Here is a tabulation compiled by San Lazaro Hospital Department of Adult Infectious Diseases and Tropical Medicine head Rontgene M. Solante on Covid-19 vaccine rank among the different efficacy end points, on a social media post he shared:  

A.  In terms of ranking as to over-all efficacy: (prevent covid from mild to severe)

  1. Pfizer 95%

2. Moderna 94%

3. Sputnik 91%

4. Novavax 89.3%

5. Astra Zeneca 70%

6. Sinovac 50.4% (Brazil trial),

             91.25% (Turkey trial),

             65.3% (Indonesia trial)

7. Janssen 66%

B. As to efficacy for >60/65 years old:

  1. Pfizer 92% (>65)
  2. Sputnik 91.8% (>60)
  3. Moderna 86.4% (>65)

C. As to efficacy in preventing severe covid:

  1. Astra 100%
  2. Pfizer 100%
  3. Moderna 100%
  4. Sputnik 100%
  5. Sinovac 100% (Brazilian trial)
  6. Janssen 85%

D. As to efficacy v/s new variants:

  1. Pfizer and Moderna claimed effective v/s UK and South African variants
    1. AZ -Oxford 74.6% v/s UK variant
    1. Janssen 66% vs S. African variant B 1.350
    1. Novavax 49.3% vs S. African variant 501Y.V2

E. As to side effect:

  1. All vaccine causes pain on injection site.
  2. Most common systemic side effect is fatigue and myalgia.
  3. All have mild to moderate side effect.

Dr. Solante also said that the World Health Organization threshold for vaccine efficacy is 50%, thus all current vaccines passed this criteria.

Our medical practitioners had been undeniably busy practicing their profession more than ever since the onset of the ongoing pandemic. Now that more variants are surfacing, we expect them to be performing even more.

For the absolute efforts they have exhibited, our doctors and nurses and all those in the field deserve nothing less than our appreciation, our gratefulness, to say the least.

Medical laboratories also had seriously been doing their part that they were able to swiftly come up with solutions in terms of vaccines to attempt to curb the spread of the virus which is mutating to a degree we can only imagine.

Whatever the source of this pandemic, whether man-made or not, it is about time we show cooperation, respect, and compassion. Let us make everyone feel and see that we are all in this together, that we want the world to heal.

Will getting the jab be the answer?  That’s yours to figure out.

Everybody has God to turn to in times of trouble and anxiety; in good times and victories. Let’s not forget that, too.

Merriam del Rosario