Nalzaro: Don’t be choosy about Covid-19 vaccine

·3 min read

There are three Covid-19 vaccines available in the country after these were approved for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These are the China-made Sinovac, the United Kingdom (UK)-manufactured Oxford-AstraZeneca and the US-manufactured Pfizer-BioNTech. Russia’s Sputnik and US Moderna vaccines are still coming. Some people may be wondering if they should wait for one over another to become available.

Millions of Filipinos have already availed themselves of the Sinovac and AstraZeneca vaccines, which were the first to arrive. But there are still people who are hesitant to be vaccinated with the two vaccines because of “vaccine distrust.” But when Pfizer-BioNTech was used just this week in key cities, an influx of people lined up to get the limited shots because they said it is more reliable and effective compared to Sinovac and AstraZeneca.

Based on the data provided by the manufacturer, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, or BNT 162b2, has been shown to be 95 percent effective in an ongoing large-scale clinical trial. The AstraZeneca combined analysis showed an average efficacy of 70 percent and has confirmed 100 percent protection against severe disease. Sinovac, on the other hand, has the latest efficacy rate of 80-90 percent.

The Cebu City Vaccine Board headed by Vice Mayor Michael Rama had a hard time controlling people who wanted to avail themselves of the Pfizer vaccine at the University of Cebu Senior High School campus in Sambag 1. That is why in their advisory, they said they will not accommodate walk-ins to prevent people from trooping to the vaccination site.

In the National Capital Region (NCR), more people also chose to be vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine. Is it because of its efficacy rate or because it is made in America? Or maybe it’s because of its branding or the company’s marketing strategy. Even President Rodrigo Duterte had appealed to the public not to choose vaccines.

For me, now is not the time to be choosy. If a vaccine is available, take it. The best thing to do is to get the vaccine when it is your turn. Be ready. And absolutely don’t wait for any specific vaccine. They all work well. The supply of vaccines is still scarce, so if you are eligible and find availability, don’t wait. Grab it.

“There currently are not any guidelines recommending one vaccine over another for specific people, making them all fair game. Regardless of brand or vaccine type, they’ve all been shown to be effective in preventing Covid-19 infection. They all bring us one step closer to herd immunity and normalcy,” said Dr. Frank Esper, an infectious disease specialist with Cleveland Clinic Children’s.

Because of this development that more people are preferring western-manufactured vaccines over the vaccine made in China, there is a proposal for a “nameless vaccine.” Meaning, the government will not announce what vaccine has arrived and what brand it will use to vaccinate individuals. However, they will be informed before they are injected. If they refuse to be inoculated because they do not like the brand, then they can go back in line. Some local government units (LGUs) in the NCR conducted the vaccine rollout through random selection and raffle.

The Department of Health urged LGUs to refrain from announcing to the public which vaccines will be offered in specific sites to avoid the same situation where hundreds of individuals queued to get the Pfizer vaccine. This instruction was echoed by the Department of the Interior and Local Government in a memorandum addressed to all LGUs.

But would this process violate the patient’s right to information and the freedom of choice? We have the “freedom of choice” or free will or the ability to choose between different possible courses of action unimpaired. One of the rights of the patient is the right to informed consent. The patient has the right to a clear, truthful and substantial explanation in a manner and language understandable to the patient of all proposed procedures, whether diagnostic, preventive, curative, rehabilitative or therapeutic.