MANILA - A former health secretary on Wednesday expressed concern on the high levels of hesitancy towards getting COVID-19 shots in Metro Manila, saying this could affect the country's efforts to stem the pandemic.
"I think that the data is very alarming. This 75 percent vaccine hesitancy is way dangerous... and we need to do something about it," Dr. Esperanza Cabral told ANC.
Citing previous data, vaccine hesitancy in the country only ranged between 40 to 60 percent, she said.
If three-quarters of the population in the Philippine capital are wary of the inoculation, this is a "big, dangerous leap," Cabral added.
In a non-commissioned scientific poll conducted by a group of experts in December, only 25 percent of Metro Manila residents are willing to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Some 47 percent of respondents were undecided while 28 percent said they would not get the coronavirus vaccine, the OCTA Research Team survey revealed.
To address this seeming widespread hesitancy, Cabral said health authorities should conduct massive information campaign.
"We need to make them understand that vaccines are effective and safe. And that if they take it, the chances of developing this dreaded coronavirus illness are going to be reduced by very significant number," she said.
"We need to make sure that we reach everybody with the correct information so that they can choose for themselves whether they will accept the vaccine or not."
As parts of the world began rolling out COVID-19 vaccines, with priority given to health-care workers, Cabral urged the Philippine government to focus on the execution of the planned nationwide COVID-19 vaccination.
"As far as the roadmap is concerned, I think that the roadmap is basically good. It follows the roadmap of many other countries and the recommendation of the World Health Organization (WHO)," she said.
"It is just the execution of the roadmap that we need to look into. We're always being praised for having nice implementation programs and plans but when it comes to the execution, that is sometimes where we fail."
A year into the pandemic, the Philippines has logged nearly 480,000 coronavirus infections, of which 9,300 have died from the illness, among the highest in the Southeast Asian region.
ANC, Matters of Fact, Dr. Esperanza Cabral, vaccine hesitancy, Metro Manila, OCTA Research Team