Nalzaro: Vaccines’ safety and efficacy questioned

·4 min read

HOW can we achieve the so-called herd immunity by the end of the year if this is the way our government is handling the vaccination rollout? Our vaccination campaign is “off and on.” The reason? Not enough supply of the vaccine.

On Monday, June 28, 2021, all the vaccination sites in Cebu City were closed because the City did not have any vaccines and was waiting for a delivery from the Department of Health 7.

With this kind of system, we can never hit our target to inoculate 70 percent of the country’s 110 million population. Abtan tag siyam-siyam ani. It’s high time that local government units and private companies should be allowed to purchase vaccines to augment the procurement made by the national government.

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Months after the national government launched its mass vaccination campaign against coronavirus disease 2019, only three out of 10 Filipinos said they were willing to get vaccinated. A non-commissioned survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) found out that only 32 percent of adult Filipinos are willing to get vaccinated for free. I don’t know if the figures have changed lately because the survey was conducted almost two months ago.

Maybe these have changed. But still, there are a lot of people who remain hesitant to get the vaccine. The number one reason is the safety of the vaccines and its alleged side effects and efficacy. This is not to scare the public but more people are hesitant to be inoculated upon hearing negative reports about the vaccines such as this.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have confirmed that myocarditis and pericarditis can occur after mRNA vaccination in young people. But the cases are rare. Medical experts still recommend the shots. The CDC reported more than 1,000 cases of myocarditis and pericarditis (inflammation of the outer lining of the heart) in the United States since April following mRNA vaccination against Covid-19. The CDC treats these cases as vaccine side effects. They occurred in people who had received a dose of the Pfizer/BioNtect and Moderna vaccines. The cases are very rare, or about 13 in a million.

According to the CDC, most of those affected were adolescents and young adults over the age of 16. And the cases typically occurred within a few days of the second vaccination. The CDC statement said “most patients who received care responded well to treatment and rest and quickly felt better.”

Inflammation of the heart muscle or pericardium does not just occur as a vaccination side effect. It can affect healthy and athletic people and, in some cases, can even be life threatening. This danger is particularly great if, for example, endurance athletes do not take it seriously and continue to exercise when their bodies requires rest.

Two months ago, the British manufactured Astrazeneca vaccine was also suspended following the issue on blood clot as a side effect on young people. Symptoms of blood clot are shortness of breath, chest pain, leg swelling, persistent abdominal pain, severe headache and blurred vision. However, the cases were also rare and the vaccine was allowed to be used. (I am already fully vaccinated with AstraZeneca and thank God I never experienced any serious side effect).

But what is alarming and could add to the hesitancy of the people to get the jab is the reported deaths in Indonesia, among them were frontliners, who were already fully vaccinated with China‘s Sinovac vaccine. These deaths lead to the question of the efficacy of the vaccine, although the Indonesian Medical Association is still investigating to verify the vaccination status of those who died. According to the report, at least 20 doctors who were fully vaccinated with the Sinovac vaccine died from Covid-19 over a five-month period.

Because of this, there are theories that the Sinovac vaccine is “probably not as effective as most other vaccines that are in the market or either Indonesian hospitals don’t always have the same machinery and capacity to handle severe cases as hospitals in countries with stronger health care.”

Despite these negative reports on the vaccines, medical experts say it’s better to be vaccinated than not at all. Busa pabakuna namo.

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