WHO on Filipinos' reported vaccine hesitancy: Time to redo survey

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 12 2021 04:39 PM

Shoppers traverse the streets in the Divisoria market area in Manila on December 13, 2020. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — As polls claimed that nearly half of Filipinos in the capital region are hesitant to take the coronavirus vaccine, the World Health Organization said surveys must be redone now that there is more public knowledge about safety and efficacy.

“We are very much aware of a Pulse Asia survey which showed that the acceptance for a vaccine a COVID-19 vaccine is quite low in the Philippines. I’d like to draw attention to the fact that the Pulse Asia survey was conducted at the end of November before 2nd of December and that was the time when we did not have emergency use authorization for any of the COVID vaccines,” said WHO Country Representative Rabindra Abeyasinghe during a Laging Handa briefing.

Abeyasinghe said the question has to be asked again now that the situation has changed.

“We need to be clear and transparent with the Filipino public that these vaccines are not given market authorization because they are still in the emergency use listing," he added.

The WHO official said vaccines approved through emergency use should be monitored for potential side effects.

Currently, vaccine developers Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Gamaleya Institute have applied for emergency use in the Philippines.

He also explained that while vaccines are “shown to be effective in reducing deaths and reducing severe disease, not all of them have been shown to be effective in reducing transmission.”

He said vaccines are mainly used to reduce the impact of the pandemic by protecting health care workers and vulnerable groups such as the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions.

“If we use the vaccines in a very careful way, we can could then minimize the impact of the pandemic and hopefully bring back economic activity early,” he said.

However, Abeyasinghe reminded the public that the roll-out of vaccines would take time, as different brands have different administration and storage requirements.

Asked about the efficacy of Sinovac’s vaccine, which is said to be among the first to arrive in the Philippines, the WHO representative said evaluation is still ongoing.

“The relevant dossier was shared with WHO only last week. We will need some time for review of the dossier,” he said of Sinovac.

Video from the Laging Handa briefing of the PCOO