Some health workers wary of COVID-19 vaccine, but those in favor outnumber them - polls

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 14 2021 09:54 PM

A health worker in a PPE cools herself in front of a fan at a testing center in Navotas City on August 20, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — Lack of thorough study on COVID-19 vaccines and concerns about their side effects topped the reasons why some health workers in the country refuse to be inoculated against the coronavirus, results of two surveys showed Thursday.

An online survey by the Department of Health (DOH) conducted on Dec. 29-30 last year showed that 8.27 percent of 1,245 health worker respondents said they are "unlikely to be vaccinated".

Sixty-one percent of them believe that the vaccines are "not thoroughly studied", thus their reason for having no interest in getting inoculated, while 20 percent are concerned about the side effects.

A separate survey by the Philippine Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (PSMID) among 93 health care professionals revealed that 3 percent of them also refuse inoculation.

Seventeen respondents of the poll, held from Dec. 30, 2020 until Jan. 8 this year, expressed concern about the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccines.

Others picked the following reasons for their hesitation to receive a vaccine:

  •  I do not trust the country where the vaccine is manufactured (6 respondents)
  •  I want to see how it affects other people before getting it myself (4 respondents)
  •  "Too rushed" vaccine development (2 respondents) 
  •  I already had COVID-19 (2 respondents)
  •  Concerned about the vaccine's ingredients (1 respondent) 
  •  It would be an unproven vaccine (1 respondent)
  •  I don't think the COVID-19 vaccine would protect me (1 respondent) 
  •  I don't trust the government's immunization program (1 respondent)
Screengrab from the slide of Dr. Nina Castillo-Carandang during the DOH briefing on Thursday afternoon. 

"For health care workers, the need for protection and prevention stood out among their various reasons," UP Manila's Prof. Nina Castillo-Carandang, a clinical epidemiologist, said of those who hesitate to take the vaccine.

The reasons why health care professionals and health care workers refuse to be inoculated with the COVID-19 vaccine. Screengrab

"For health care professionals, [their reasons include] they (vaccines) are not thoroughly studied, concerned about the side effects and it depends on the brand or the manufacturer," added Carandang during the presentation of the survey results.

MAJORITY OF RESPONDENTS WANT TO BE VACCINATED

Notably, the two surveys showed that majority of the respondents choose to receive a vaccine - 91 percent from the PSMID poll, and 63.29 percent from the DOH survey.

Even those "unsure" about taking a jab outnumber those who are unlikely to be vaccinated.

Six percent of the PSMID poll respondents and 28.43 percent from the DOH survey said they are "not sure" about getting inoculated.

Screengrab from the slide of Dr. Carandang during the DOH briefing on Thursday afternoon. 

Safety concerns topped the reasons among those unsure in the DOH survey.

  •  safety concerns: 38 percent
  •  brand concerns: 27 percent
  •  not well studied: 22 percent, 
  •  efficacy concerns: 10 percent
  •  efficacy to protect against COVID-19: 3 percent

In the PSMID poll, 14 of those unsure cite insufficient information about the COVID-19 vaccine.

Other respondents chose the following reasons: 

  •  There might be other people who need the COVID-19 vaccine more than I do (3 respondents) 
  •  There is not enough supply of COVID-19 vaccine (2 respondents) 
  •  COVID-19 will disappear before I have a chance to get the vaccine (1 respondent)
  •  Vaccination for COVID-19 is only for people who are in power and have connections to get access to the vaccines (1 respondent) 
  •  Government has no definite plans on handling the pandemic to begin with, likewise, the priority of the government should the vaccines become available will be his allies (1 respondent)

A study by the OCTA Group released on Jan. 5 showed that only 25 percent of Metro Manila residents were willing to be vaccinated against COVID-19. 

The remaining 75 percent of respondents are mostly undecided (47 percent) or unwilling (28 percent).

Carandang emphasized that supporting the health care workers' vaccine confidence needs preparation of specific key messages, effective information dissemination to health care workers, and adapting of communication channels, among others. 

"We need to have information and clarification about the efficacy profile, open dialogue and regular feedback, endorsement, recommendation of health care societies and communities. And the barriers again will be all the noise," she said.

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