To fight misinformation, DOH to mount info drive on COVID-19 vaccine

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 24 2020 10:09 PM

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MANILA — The Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday said it plans to mount an information drive on the COVID-19 vaccine to encourage Filipinos to be vaccinated against the deadly disease and to quell the public’s fear regarding its safety. 

In an interview on Teleradyo, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said health officials have been finalizing the information drive to prepare communities on the vaccine. 

“I very much agree with that. Fina-finalize lang po namin ang plano and mag-uumpisa na po kami ng engagement of the community to mobilize them,” said Vergeire. 

(We are just finalizing the plan then we will start with the community engagement.) 

The health department, Vergeire added, started planning the information campaign as early as October, when the World Health Organization (WHO) announced it would be conducting clinical trials in the country. 

The Philippines is among the countries participating in the World Health Organization’s Solidarity Trial for COVID-19 vaccines. But the clinical trials have been postponed until December. 

WHO said the Philippines has pledged 2,000 to 3,000 participants for the vaccine trials. 

Vergeire said the DOH met with local government officials whose residents are participating in WHO’s clinical trials to help with the information drive. 

“Dapat supposedly mag-uumpisa na during that time (October), nagkaroon lang ng kaunting delays. Noong sinasabi natin yan, umupo na tayo, we met with local governments that were identified na part ng of this clinical trial para ma-initially engage sila, they could mobilize their community members already,” she said. 

“Titingnan po natin yan (we will look into this) and yes we agree about that, as early as now, we should already be doing this mobilization.” 

The health official also dispelled the public’s fear on the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine, and said all of the COVID-19 vaccines that would be distributed to Filipinos would undergo strict screening. 

“Kaya tayo mayroong very stringent na ginagawang regulation ngayon kasi ayaw po natin magbigay ng bakuna na hindi ligtas at hindi efficacious para sa ating mga kababayan, hindi po iyon fake, ang ating lang pong bibigay through the government are those registered by Food and Drug Administration (FDA),” she explained. 

(That is why we have very stringent regulations because we do not want to distribute unsafe and ineffective vaccines for Filipinos. It is not fake. The only ones we will provide are those registered by the FDA.)

The health department earlier said barangays with the highest number of coronavirus infections will serve as the primary recruitment hub for the Philippines' clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccines as the government prepares to test vaccine candidates on Filipinos.

The Philippines will prioritize vaccine trials under the WHO Solidarity Trial program, a resolution from the National Task Force for COVID-19 dated Sept. 3. read. 

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