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EXPLAINER: Are Pinoys scared of vaccines?

by Jericho Zafra

Recently updated on February 7, 2023 05:35 pm

BACK to vax problems?

Amid the country’s reduced pandemic and masking restrictions, more Filipinos continue to contract COVID-19. The latest tally from the independent pandemic monitor Octa Research Group said the country had a 12.3 percent national positivity rate as of Monday.

According to the latest report from the Department of Health, there were 7,731 new COVID-19 cases in the country from November 28 to December 4. This week’s average number of new cases per day stood at 1,104, down four percent compared to cases from November 21 to 27. Of the new cases, two were severe and critically ill. Meanwhile, there were 134 reported deaths, of which 19 occurred from November 21 to December 4.

During the same period, there were 595 serious and critical patients admitted to the hospitals due to COVID-19. Of the 2,413 ICU beds for patients with COVID-19, 534 or 22.1 percent are occupied. Meanwhile, 5,177 or 25.3 percent of the 20,452 non-ICU COVID-19 beds are currently in use.

This means there is an upward trend of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines.

More than 73 million individuals, or 94.27 percent of the country’s target population, have been vaccinated against COVID-19, but only 20 million individuals (25 percent) have already received their booster shots, according to the DOH.

Why the low booster shot turnout?

In 2021, the World Bank reported that nearly half of Filipinos are reluctant to get the COVID-19 vaccine or are uncertain about getting vaccinated.

“The level of hesitancy is higher in the Philippines compared with other countries in the region,” the World Bank said.

Several information-related causes lead to hesitation. Possible explanations include a lack of knowledge about vaccines, misinformation about their effectiveness or adverse reactions, skepticism, and an overestimation of the risks and expenses of vaccination compared to the benefits of vaccination, said the World Bank.

Over 35 percent of the respondents from the lower income Filipino households, according to the World Bank, have the highest vaccine hesitancy, which hampers the smooth rollout of vaccination efforts in the country.

One of the Filipinos hesitant to get a booster shot is Joann Capili, 74, a seamstress for a church in Caloocan. 

“Mula nang nabakunahan ako pakiramdam ko parang nanghina ako ko kaya hindi na ako nagpa-booster,” Capili said in a phone interview.

Capili and the other Filipinos who have yet to receive their primary booster shots make it hard for the country to reach its 30 percent target to maintain its immunity for COVID-19.

DOH measures

The DOH has also had to contend with concerns that it administers expired vaccines, after it was reported that some government-procured vaccines were left unused past their shelf life.  

It has since released a statement assuring all Filipinos that it does not administer expired vaccines.

“Hindi nagbibigay ng bakunang expired ang ating bakunahan. Tuloy-tuloy ang pagsusuri ng mga eksperto tungkol sa shelf life o buhay ng bakuna upang masigurong mabisa at ligtas ang mga bakunang ginagamit sa bakunahan,” the DOH advisory stated.

It also said experts continue to test vaccines even after the date printed on the vaccine vial. 

Because of new data and evidence, the FDA at times reviews and approves a new expiration date or shelf life for the vaccine and ensures that it is still effective and provides protection.

Photo Credit: Metro Manila Center for Health Development



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