Editorial: Vaccine breakthrough cases

·3 min read

WE HAD long dreaded it yet despite efforts to inform the public that it could happen, it still came as a shock to many.

News that 16 fully and partially vaccinated individuals from Mandaue City tested positive for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) hogged headlines on Thursday, July 1, 2021.

Called “vaccine breakthrough cases,” the US-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that these are rare cases, emphasizing that “a small percentage of fully vaccinated people will still get sick, are hospitalized, or die from Covid-19.”

But while saying that no vaccine is 100 percent effective against Covid-19, the CDC stressed that the vaccines do work and are important in “keeping the pandemic under control.” It cited that there are some evidence to show that those who will get the virus despite being fully vaccinated experience less severe illness.

Closer to home, the Department of Health (DOH) has kept reminding the public that adverse reactions to the vaccines are expected as “these are signs that the body is building protection against Covid-19.”

The vaccine breakthrough cases in Mandaue, however, do not bode well for local health officials who have been at their wits’ end trying to educate and convince the reluctant to have themselves vaccinated.

It also becomes even more taxing for the ordinary citizens, already encountering resistance from families, relatives, colleagues and friends, to persuade the unvaccinated to register or line up at the vaccination centers for their shots.

But we can all take a page from lawyer Regal Oliva’s book. Mandaue City’s Treasurer revealed through a Facebook post on June 30 that he tested positive for Covid-19 even after completing the two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine. He also did the conscientious and prudent thing by urging everyone he had come in close contact with in the past 10 days to be on the lookout for symptoms, isolate themselves if they don’t feel well, and continue observing health protocols to protect themselves and their loved ones.

Oliva, who is currently in an isolation facility in Mandaue City, further encouraged everyone to get vaccinated as soon as their schedule for inoculation becomes available, saying vaccines work because he only had mild symptoms.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), for its part, allayed people’s fears by saying that 35 persons who got Covid-19 two weeks after completing their vaccination all experienced mild symptoms.

FDA Director General Eric Domingo said no hospitalizations or deaths due to Covid-19 were reported more than 14 days since the second dose was administered to the vaccinees.

We have a long way to go before reaching herd immunity, which the government hopes to achieve by vaccinating up to 70 million Filipinos.

Data from the Philippines Vaccine Tracker (culled from DOH, PIA Desk and OurWorldinData), as of June 28, show that a total of 2,570,380 Filipinos or 2.33 percent of the population have been vaccinated, with an average of 234,993 daily vaccinations.

At the rate things are going, it will take about 1.5 years (January 2023) before the country is able to vaccinate 70 million Filipinos, the Philippines Vaccine Tracker added.

Until then, let’s trust science and the health experts, continue to practice social distancing, wear masks and face shields, wash our hands regularly, opt for outdoor seating when dining out, have ourselves vaccinated as soon as we can and not let the virus defeat us.

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