By Jay Ledesma

Vaccine it is! 

FROM mere numbers and statistics last year, covid now has names and faces on it. The last few weeks took covid closer to home as our own relatives and friends got infected. Most of them were blessed to have recovered but sadly 3 of them did not make it. 
If only they were vaccinated, they probably had a better chance of beating the unseen enemy. They missed the vaccines for three different reasons: 
The first one got the virus just a few weeks after the vaccine was rolled out for the senior citizens. Our friend was already scheduled and looking forward to getting the jab but the virus got to him first. If only he was scheduled much earlier, things might have been different. The second one was a friend who has comorbidity. She was already in the vaccine site when she hesitated and backed out at the last minute. Had she taken it, she would have finished her 2nd dose already. Covid already got her by the time she felt ready. The third was a relative who also had the chance to be vaccinated under the A2 category but refused because he was waiting for his preferred brand that they ordered thru the company of her daughter. A brand that has a higher efficacy rate and that which will be accepted in the US and Europe, as he loved to travel. Sadly, no vaccine brand is best for him now as brand covid got him first. 
Three different stories, three different lives which could have been saved by the vaccine. 
From the time we started the vaccination, around 1.5M Filipinos have been inoculated but only 500T+ had the complete dose. This represents only 0.74% of our immunity herd target. The good news is we recently received close to four million vaccines.  Still far from the 70M target but that’s 4 million lives saved. The challenge is to administer all these at the soonest possible time. We are running against the risk of getting infected. 
In our family, we are very clear with 3 things:
  • The vaccine is our best defense against the virus. While we personally observe the proper health protocols of social distancing, wearing of face mask and face shield, and washing our hands, we also realized that there are a lot of external factors that we cannot control but can put us at risk. One of our friends who got infected but eventually recovered follows the protocols to a tee. He does not even go out. The only time he went out was to celebrate the birthday of his wife. They went to eat out. A few days after, he was manifesting some symptoms already. He tested positive. Turned out, the waiter who served them was asymptomatic.
  • We will get the vaccine the first chance we have. All the senior citizens and those with comorbidity in our family have been vaccinated already. They took the chance as soon as the vaccines were available in their barangays. Never mind if they have to queue for hours. No dilly-dallying. Five of them already completed the 2 doses of Sinovac. Imagine our peace of mind. 
  • The best brand is the one available for us now. Brands may have different efficacy rates but they all prevent us from getting critical. Even with vaccines, we can still be infected but it will just either be mild or moderate. We also don’t worry whether the brand we had will be accepted in the US or Europe. What we should be worrying about is whether we will still be around to go to the US or anywhere else if covid strikes home. 
Following the priority groupings set by the government, I belong to the last group. I have accepted that fact. I have retired but not yet a senior citizen and luckily have no comorbidity. I often kid about it in our family, “I am so non-essential”! But I was blessed to be vaccinated a few days ago. It was the first day of the vaccine rollout in Davao City for the A2 category. I accompanied my husband to the vaccine site. I was pleasantly surprised when they accommodated me even after learning that am neither in the 3 priority groups. It turned out, there were few senior citizens who showed up for the vaccines so they started accepting walk-ins so as not to spoil the vaccines that were already on the site. Lucky me! I was in the right place at the right time! 
My relatives in Manila who were vaccinated much earlier were sharing how organized the vaccine process was in their Barangays. 
I have to say that the one in SM Lanang, where we got our vaccines, was well organized as well. Social distancing was observed, the staff and front-liners were all courteous and helpful, guiding us every step of the way. It took us only a total of 45 minutes to finish the entire process, to already include the 15 mins observation period. 
I wish to thank and commend all the men and women manning the different vaccine sites across the country. They spend at least 10 hours/day administering, comforting those who were nervous, keeping the smiles on their faces while explaining to those who are confused, and cheering each time one leaves the observation area sans any complications. And yes, they are also at risk of getting infected as some of those they are vaccinating may be positive. Your efforts and dedication are well appreciated.
We now wait 28 days for our second dose. Meanwhile, we continue to observe the health protocols. 
We have around 4M vaccines ready for disposal. Yesterday in the news, it was reported that among those in A1 (health frontlines), 24% has yet to be vaccinated while a very low 6% of our senior citizens have been inoculated. While I was thankful that I got vaccinated, I also felt sad that I and the others who walked in got the jab because some senior citizens did not show up. Not sure what their reasons were, but they should have gotten themselves vaccinated.
The virus is still very much around but we have the vaccines. If we have family members and friends who belong to A1, A2, and A3 priority groups, let’s strongly encourage them to get vaccinated. Let’s link them to experts in case they have doubts or questions. 
Let’s be mindful that it is our responsibility to get ourselves vaccinated for our own protection and those of our loved ones. And we help recover our economy. Vaccine it is!


About the Columnist

Image of Jay Ledesma

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