Malilong: Help is coming, even if slowly

Frank Malilong
·3 min read

THE United States started its vaccination program middle of December last year. As of yesterday, only 9.7 percent of its population have been fully vaccinated. Eighteen percent have at least gotten one dose.

Availability of the vaccines remains a limiting factor despite the fact that three manufacturers are racing with time to produce as many doses as they can, with the third one entering into a partnership with an old competitor to maximize production.

Last week, US President Biden announced that by the end of May, vaccines will be available to all American adults. But there remains one big hurdle. “We need vaccinators who put the shots in people’s arms, millions of American arms,” he said.

I looked at the American experience for comparison or whatever passes for comparison, after I came across a post in our Walk and Talk chat room, asking how long it could take to vaccinate enough number of Filipinos that would enable us to achieve herd immunity.

There are about 110 million of us. If out of that number, 70 million are adults and 70 percent have to be inoculated in order to achieve herd immunity, we need a total of 98 million doses to be injected to our arms since Sinovac, which appears to be the vaccine of choice, requires (like all the other vaccines except Johnson & Johnson) two doses within 28 days of each other. How long will it take our government to do that? You do the math.

Much will also depend on the availability of the vaccines which, sadly, have so far come in trickles and, maybe a little less sadly, from doleouts. How many more are forthcoming depends on how successful we will be in competing with other governments for the limited supply in the market. But let’s trust that our leaders are, to quote a favorite phrase in the bureaucracy, on top of the situation.

The other option and which appears to be the more practical one is to wait for three or four months when the richer countries shall have stored enough supplies for their domestic use, freeing more vaccines for access by poorer people like us.

And because scarcity of the prized liquid will no longer be a concern by then, the government will hopefully relax the restrictions on their acquisition by private parties so that dispensing them will just be like dispensing the ordinary flu vaccines. And then, we will have a choice between waiting in line at government-designated vaccination centers or engaging the services of a private health professional to get ourselves inoculated.

In the meantime let’s make do with what we have. Because the supplies are limited, the government has established a system of priorities in choosing recipients of the vaccines. Let’s wait for our turn, no jumping the line. Karma is a bitch, remember.

Most of all, let’s continue to observe the practices that have kept us safe so far. Wash our hands, wear a mask, do physical distancing. Help is on the way although it may be slow in coming. Just make sure you’re still there by the time it arrives.