DILG reports increased vaccine confidence after local town hall meetings
Devotees maintain proper social distancing and follow other health protocols as they attend the first Friday of the month mass at the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo, Manila on March 5, 2021. 
The STAR/Miguel de Guzman

DILG reports increased vaccine confidence after local town hall meetings

(Philstar.com) - March 7, 2021 - 1:09pm

MANILA, Philippines —  The Department of the Interior and Local Government found improving vaccine confidence in numerous localities after town hall meetings were conducted by local governments across the country, it disclosed Sunday. 

In a statement, interior spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said that there was an increasing trend of participants "who are highly likely to get the vaccines" after attending town hall sessions on the coronavirus vaccine conducted by the DILG and the Department of Health where comparative data of entry and exit polls were gathered.  

"We hope that more can be convinced because this is the most effective way for us to achieve herd immunity against COVID-19,” Malaya said. 

“Now that the vaccines have arrived, all LGUs should start conducting town hall meetings, barangay assemblies to increase demand and vaccine confidence in the grassroots,” he also said. 

According to Malaya, polls found that Filipinos who said they would likely get vaccinated grew from a staggering 67% to 83% after the first DILG webinar with the Luzon Cluster of the Bureau of Fire Protection and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.

In contrast, he said, those who said that they would not get vaccinated slipped from 8% to 4%, while those who were undecided also decreased from 26% to 12%.

The DILG undersecretary also said that in the Visayas cluster of the two bureaus, 75% of the webinar participants are highly likely to get the vaccine, 8% are not likely and 18% are unsure while in Mindanao cluster, 88% are highly likely to get the shots, 1% are not likely and 11% are still unsure.  

Conflict over Sinovac among health workers

A 2018 study of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine noted that the country’s “highly-politicized response” to the reported risks posed by Dengvaxia has eroded overall public trust in immunization. Healthcare collectives today say that the vaccine hesitancy has spilled over to the government's national vaccination program to address the coronavirus pandemic. 

Doses from drugmakers AstraZeneca and Sinovac have since arrived in the country last week, and the administration's national vaccination program has formally begun—the last country in Southeast Asia to do so. 

Though they have already secured emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration, existing data show that the Sinovac jabs donated to the country by the Chinese government have not yet undergone Phase 3 clinical trials as of this post.

Trials in Brazil involving health workers who have had interaction with COVID-19 patients, the jabs yielded only an overall 50.4% efficacy. Separate trials showed a 65.3% efficacy rate in Indonesia and 91.25% in Turkey.

Doctors and other healthcare personnel from the Philippine General Hospital have publicly called for further assessment of the Sinovac vaccine before it is given to healthcare workers.

On the other hand, a briefer by the Department of Health says that the Sinovac jabs are still effective as "clinical trial data show that the vaccine is 50% effective in preventing mild symptoms, 78% effective against moderate symptoms, and 100% effective against severe symptoms."  

Coronavirus cases rising again 

Health authorities on Saturday afternoon logged 3,439 new coronavirus infections—the second day in a row with over 3,000 new cases.  

Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said that the next two weeks would be "crucial" in determining if the country is able to manage the rising cases.

To date, the health department has recorded 591,138 coronavirus cases in the country since the pathogen first emerged in December 2019. 

It has been 355 days since the first enhanced community quarantine was hoisted. The Philippines is still under the world's longest quarantine.

— Franco Luna 

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