ZC health officials seek media help to promote COVID-19 vaccine

By Jayson R. Aucensillo

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Feb 10 (PIA) – Health officials here are seeking the help of the mass media to help correct fake news and misconceptions about the COVID-19 vaccines. The proliferation of fake news especially on social media has become a major concern for the officials, particularly in getting residents prepared to receive the vaccines once they arrive.

“COVID-19 is new, the vaccines are new. It is common for people to immediately believe what they see on social media, even the fake news. But this will hinder the vaccination campaign of the government,” said City Epidemiologist Dr. Ivy Rozeth Saavedra-Iturralde in an information session with the local media here Tuesday (February 9).

“Hopefully, we could work as one in the information drive in countering fake news and misconceptions of the people about the COVID-19 vaccines,” the doctor added.

In a recent survey conducted by the Zamboanga City Medical Center (ZCMC) with more or less 296 respondents, 40 percent are “somewhat hesitant” while 15.9 percent are “very hesitant”, said Dr. Iturralde.

“There are still people who are hesitant to take the vaccine, and we would like to address this by providing accurate information so more will be receptive to getting vaccinated,” she added.

The COVID-19 vaccines have side effects, explained Dr. Iturralde, “but the benefits outweigh the risk”.

Moreover, the city has a total of 6,189 frontline medical health workers both from public and private hospitals in Zamboanga City who registered and are willing to be vaccinated whenever the roll-out begins within the first quarter of the year. They are the first priority for the vaccination, followed by senior citizens.

The government is now doubling its efforts to intensify the information and dissemination campaign by encouraging the public to be part of the vaccination program and erase all the qualms about the vaccine as well as its safety when released to the public.

As per its efficacy to the new COVID-19 variant, “there are still no studies that indicate COVID-19 vaccines are not effective with regards to the new variant,” added Dra. Gem Durias, Regional National Immunization Program Coordinator of DOH-9.

“As of now, there are still no communication from the DOH-Central Office with regards to the arrival of the vaccines, yet we expect it to arrive on the 3rd to 4th week of February,” Dra. Durias disclosed. (RVC/JRA/PIA9-Zamboanga City)