MANILA – Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo on Wednesday renewed his call to the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) to lead an information campaign that would disprove false claims about coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccines.
He made this remark after a Pulse Asia survey showed that almost half or 47 percent of Filipinos said they will not get vaccinated against Covid-19. Only 32 percent showed willingness to receive the vaccine while 21 percent are still undecided.
Panelo said while not everyone could be convinced to get inoculated with a Covid-19 vaccine, it is important for the PCOO to re-establish trust in vaccinations amid the prevalence of fake news.
“Ang problema natin (Our problem now) is information. You have to have a constant information campaign dito sa ating mga platform na galing sa gobyerno (in our government platforms). Otherwise yung 47 percent na 'yan magkaroon ng multiplier effect 'yan (there will be a multiplier effect in that 47 percent),” he said in his commentary show Counterpoint aired on state-run PTV-4.
He noted that the worst-case scenario is that the government would have bought millions of Covid-19 vaccine doses only to go to waste if priority groups, including the poor, refuse to get inoculated.
“Halos wala na tayong pambili, ginawa na nga natin ng paraan, bumili tayo ng karami-rami tapos naka ready tapos ayaw pala magpabakuna. Masasayang lang ang pera natin. yun ang problema talaga (We barely have enough to purchase vaccines, we’re finding ways to get them, we buy so many and they’re ready, then people refuse to get vaccinated. Our money will go to waste, that’s the real problem),” he added.
Panelo said the fact that citizens around the world are already getting inoculated with a Covid-19 vaccine means that they are safe.
“Let's have an open mind. Tanggapin natin yung mga tamang impormasyon lamang (Let’s accept only correct information),” he said.
He also said the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would not have approved a Covid-19 vaccine if they would have any adverse effects.
“Walang makakapasa sa FDA na hindi safe. The fact alone na nakapasa ‘yan sa FDA dun sa ibang mga bansa should already tell us na okay. Ba’t nila tuturukan ang milyon-milyon (They won’t get approval from the FDA if they’re not safe. The fact alone that they passed FDA in their respective countries should tell us that it’s okay. Why would they inoculate millions if it’s not safe),” he said.
Meanwhile, he also responded to critics questioning the national government’s preference for Chinese-produced Covid-19 vaccines, saying a lower effectivity rate should not discourage anyone from getting them.
“If you cannot even force the person into having himself or herself inoculated or vaccinated, necessarily, the logic there is you cannot also force that person to be vaccinated by the kind of vaccine that you want that person to have,” he said.
Citing his doctor wife, Araceli, he said a 50-60 percent effectivity rate would still be able to help fight the spread of the virus.
“Kahit ilang percent pa 'yan (No matter how many percent) that will also help in combatting the virus. Kung 'yung (If the) risk of being infected is so much, kung nabakunahan ka, kahit ilang precent pa 'yan, na-reduce na (if you get vaccinated, it would be reduced),” he said.
On Tuesday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the vaccine developed by China's Sinovac will be the only choice for the government's free immunization program until the middle of 2021.
He earlier said those included in the government’s vaccine priority list could neither be forced into getting vaccinated nor choose the brand of free vaccine they want to get. (PNA)