MINDFUL

By Jay Ledesma

THE country’s vaccination program against the COVID-19 is now happening in some of our major cities, my hometown Davao City included. The vaccination started last March 1 with the 600,000 doses of Sinovac from China. We also received on March 4 the initial 525,600 doses of AstraZeneca's vaccine through the Covax facility. While we wait for the arrival of the rest of the vaccines, the government is claiming that we’re on track in our immunization program and is confident to achieve within 2021 its target of vaccinating about 70% of the Filipinos.

While this is happening, new variants of the virus are emerging and new cases of infection surged to an all-time high of 7,999 in a single day! The recent forecast is that we may hit 10,000-11,000 per day by end of March 2021.

As may be expected, the market and the economy reacted. Stock prices went down and the economy shrinking further as fears grow that another wider and stricter quarantine might be implemented.

With these as the backdrop, it is interesting that there is still an on-going debate whether to be vaccinated or not. Random surveys show that Filipinos are still divided on this serious matter. While many are already excited to be vaccinated, many are still hesitant to get the shot. 

I would like to say that I am one of those eagerly awaiting my turn to be vaccinated. My reasons are simple:

I want to feel safe. It’s providing safety for myself. One thing that we should all know and remember is that all these vaccines, regardless of the brand and their efficacy rate, will provide us 100% protection from severe symptoms which is equal to protection from death. Though we may still be infected by the virus, even with the vaccines ( that’s why efficacy rate matters to most people), at least it will only be mild symptoms and non-life-threatening.

Comparisons have been made among the different vaccines in the market. If only we all have the luxury and the opportunity to choose, we will all go for the one with the highest efficacy rate. But with the limited supplies, we are not in the position to be choosy, for now. As they say, the best vaccine for you is the one you will get. Again, all these vaccines are aimed at keeping us safe. They all passed meticulous research and studies.

I don’t know about you, but I just miss having to feel safe again!

I want to help stop the spread of the virus. When I am vaccinated, I also help reduce, if not totally eliminate the possibility of being the carrier of the virus. Some are not choosing to get vaccinated because they feel they can defeat and overcome the virus, even when they get infected. Perhaps you can. But what about the other vulnerable members of your household or your office mates or the random people you may interact with? They may not be as strong and healthy as you are to fight the virus that you carried and passed to them. We are not only responsible for keeping ourselves safe. We also have the responsibility of making the people around us safe too. The more Filipinos get vaccinated, the slower will be the spread of the virus. That’s why the government is targeting to inoculate 70% of our population as this is the level by which we can effectively control and eventually eliminate the virus. 

I want to live a normal life again. It may not be as normal as it was before the pandemic, but at least we can resume our activities with some degree of the “old normalcy”. I want to travel and go to places again, I want to visit my family members in Manila, I want to meet up with friends in person and not via zoom. I want to conduct my business in the real company of people and not virtually. The social being in me just wants to be in front of people, in the flesh! Though some of these can already be done now, having that vaccine will make me more confident to do all of them. Am okay to still wear the face mask and face shield and observe social distancing but I want to be able to do my old routines again feeling much safer and protected. 

I want to see our economy fully recover. With more people protected from the virus, with fewer people spreading the virus, and with more people confident and comfortable resuming their daily activities, very soon, we can expect our economy to fully open and recovering. More people will be going out to work, buy, eat, travel, and even be entertained. This will mean more stores, restaurants, shops and other business outlets will be back in business. This will translate to more Filipinos being employed and having money to spend, save and invest. And the cycle continues. This is how we help our economy recover and grow.

We would want to understand why there are people who still prefer not to be vaccinated. Some may have had unpleasant past experiences associated with vaccines (the case of Dengvaxia) while many are not going into it as they lack a better understanding and appreciation of the matter. This is where more massive and aggressive information dissemination is needed from our government. Aside from bombarding the media platforms on how to prevent the virus, an equally intensive campaign should be done on the benefits of the COVID-19 and why we should not be afraid to get vaccinated.

It’s good to know that some private companies are doing webinars to help their employees and customers have a better understanding of the vaccination program. I recently attended the Webinar sponsored by SunLife Grepa Healthcare, where they discussed the different benefits of getting vaccinated and other related matters. I am now more convinced to get my doses. 

You see, we remove the fears and the anxieties when we make people aware and informed. Let’s have more of these types of webinars.

So if you’re one of those who are still at the crossroad of whether to V (vaccinate) or not to V, be mindful that the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccines still outweigh whatever potential adverse reaction the vaccine may cause. Let us ask and listen to experts so we may be guided and helped in making the right decision.

Meantime, let’s continue to strictly observe the health protocols while waiting for our vaccines and even after we have received our vaccines. Keep safe everyone.

About the Columnist

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Ms. Jay Ledesma writes about local tourism and business bits that delve on investments and insurance.