Friday, March 1, 2024

iTHINK | Not the time to be choosy — go get vaxxed!

I recently got my first Covid-19 vaccine dose through the employee vaccination drive of the Ayala Group, which BPI is part of.

I’m now part of the 9% of the Philippine population to have had one vaccine dose, and I look forward to joining the ranks of the fully vaccinated (which stands at 3.2% as of this writing) soon.

While the number of new Covid-19 infections in the country has been decreasing daily, we must still be vigilant. Our neighbors such as Malaysia and Vietnam find themselves under hard lockdowns as they struggle with surging cases despite early successes in containing the virus.

Countries that had also been able to control infection within their borders through aggressive vaccination campaigns are also experiencing pockets of viral surges.

So, what’s going on? Why does there seem to be no end in sight?

One reason is that Covid-19 has the ability to mutate rapidly, especially when it is able to spread among a large host population.

The current variant that’s wreaking havoc throughout the world is the Delta variant that originated from India. As countries started to open up their borders and loosened restrictions in line with declining cases, this insidious strain found its way in and found a fresh set of vulnerable hosts.

Many of the existing vaccines are found to provide adequate protection against severe illness from earlier variants as well as the Delta variant. But countries such as Thailand are finding their healthcare facilities once again strained by a flood of patients stricken with this new variant, despite having been vaccinated.

Thankfully, as of this writing, the Philippines does not yet have any recorded cases of local transmission with the Delta variant. The doctors I’ve asked said that we should learn from the experiences of our neighbors and remain vigilant against opening up too quickly so we don’t lose the small gains we’ve made towards curbing the spread of Covid-19.

Every healthcare practitioner I’ve spoken with has also emphasized the need to speed up the rate of vaccination to help prevent mutations that may occur within our own population.

The logic behind it is that being fully vaccinated means that you lower the risks of both getting the virus and of spreading it. The sooner we achieve herd immunity – which experts say is at 70% of the population – the better.

I can only hope that our government agencies are able to sort out the supply and distribution issues that keep our vaccination progress relatively low and slow. Data from Reuters show that at the current rate of around 250,000 jabs a day, it will take almost another 100 days to fully vaccinate another 10% of the population.

While I was fortunate enough to have been among the first in my company to get the jab under our employee vaccination program, I actually have teammates who were partially or fully vaccinated through their LGUs.

They could also have gotten their jabs for free through the company, but they responsibly chose to sign up and line up for their shot as soon as they could in order to protect themselves, their families, and their colleagues. 

Truth be told, I signed up in multiple LGUs – my hometown, my current address, and my place of work. I’m grateful that I finally got the call two weeks ago and it was a huge bonus that it was from my employer.

That’s the attitude that would help our country recover from the scourge of Covid-19 faster. The government has bemoaned that people were being choosy about vaccines and holding out for the arrival of Western brands.

As every healthcare professional has stressed, the best vaccine is the one that you can get in your arm today.

Rather than choosing vaccine brands, let’s just choose health and safety. Let’s choose to look after each other. Let’s be responsible and work together so that we can all go #VaccToNormal.

I think that’s the best choice we can all make right now.

The author is the vice president and head of corporate affairs & communications of BPI and is concurrently the executive director of BPI Foundation


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