PAPO kicks off Unity Statement to increase vaccination uptake, decrease hesitancy
The Philippine Alliance of Patient Organizations (PAPO), representing 38 patient groups in the country, today launches the “Bakuna, Now Na” campaign in a bid to increase vaccination uptake and decrease hesitancy to help curb the pandemic. The campaign is also in partnership with the Department of Health and is supported by the Department of Science and Technology and the Philippine Medical Association.
The Bakuna, Now Na campaign, an information and education advocacy to increase vaccine acceptance, also kicks off with a Unity Statement with partner groups urging Filipinos to get vaccinated against CoVID-19.
The patient-led campaign also aims to support efforts towards vaccine equity through various initiatives and collaborations with governments, manufacturers and the COVAX facility among other platforms.
“The pandemic has made Filipino patients more vulnerable to sickness and hardships. We urge all Filipinos, including patients and their families, to get vaccinated against CoVID-19 to protect ourselves and others from this potentially life-threatening illness. We also support initiatives to urgently address vaccine inequity and secure vaccine access for Filipinos, including those belonging to priority sectors like patients,” said PAPO President Ms Ma. Fatima Lorenzo.
“The Bakuna, Now Na is a campaign for Filipino patients and by Filipino patients. We aspire that through this campaign, we would help in informing the patients and the public that vaccines are safe and effective having gone through regulatory approvals and scientific research. We are stronger and healthier together, which is why we are calling on everyone to get vaccinated,” said Ms Karen Alparce-Villanueva, PAPO Treasurer and Campaign Project Lead.
A recent Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey found that only three out of 10 Filipinos are willing to be vaccinated even if they were free and approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Efforts are also underway to identify barriers for the non-vaccination of a number of senior citizens and persons with comorbidities, belonging to the A2 and A3 priority sectors.
Seeing the vast number of Filipinos who are hesitant to get vaccinated, PAPO recognizes the necessity to address the people’s concerns through the Bakuna, Now Na advocacy. The campaign will center on frequently asked questions about CoVID-19 vaccines and dispel myths with verified medical facts. The Bakuna, Now Na is an effort to translate complicated medical terms into easy-to-digest content that will help educate the public.
“The Department of Health is pleased to partner with the Philippine Alliance of Patient Organizations in our effort to increase vaccine confidence and vaccinate more people as soon as possible. We continue to call on patients and our senior citizens to get themselves vaccinated because vaccines are one of the proven ways by which we could prevent this pandemic. Vaccines along with the wearing of face masks, hand washing, and physical distancing will help us move forward safely from this pandemic. Vaccines are safe and effective kaya Bakuna, Now Na,” said Department of Health – Health Promotions Bureau Director Dr. Beverly Lorraine Ho.
Dr. Nina Gloriani, chairman of the Department of Science and Technology – Vaccine Expert Panel, is also present during the campaign launch as the advocacy will feature verified information coming from the country’s medical and vaccines experts.
The Bakuna, Now Na campaign is being led by PAPO in partnership with the Department of Health, the Department of Science and Technology, the Philippine Medical Association, the Philippine Pharmacists Association and former Health Secretaries Carmencita Reodica, MD, Esperanza Cabral, MD, Manuel Dayrit, MD, and Janette Garin, MD and 50 other organizations and growing.
According to Rey Sarmenta, the former Chairman of HAPLOS, the Hemophilia Foundation, he got vaccinated because he wanted to protect his family, and getting vaccinated is his chance to enjoy his life with his loved ones.
For Ara Lanorio, President of the Neurofibromatosis Friends Philippines, proper education about vaccines should take priority. She shared her initial concerns about the vaccine and how knowing the facts helped her decide to get vaccinated.
For more information about the campaign or to sign the PAPO Unity Statement, please visit www.papo.ph and PAPO’s FB page.
About Vaccine Hesitancy in the Philippines
In a study done by Prof. Heidi Larson of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicines, data showed that vaccine confidence in the Philippines dropped to 32% in 2018 from 93% in 2015, after the Dengvaxia controversy.
In 2019, DOH reported measles outbreaks in several provinces. There was an eight-fold increase in the incidence of measles, a vaccine-preventable disease — a direct contrast to the global trend of decreasing rates of incidence of vaccine preventable diseases.
In the context of Covid-19, vaccine safety and efficacy are main points of concern among Filipinos. In a Pulse Asia survey done in March 2021, results showed that 61% of Filipinos do not want to get the Covid-19 vaccine, citing concerns about possible side effects. The government has also reported that they have missed their targets for vaccinations for people with comorbidities.
About Comorbidities and Covid-19 Vaccine Safety
People with underlying medical conditions like obesity, cardiovascular disease, lung disease, and diabetes are at high risk of getting severe complications when infected with Covid-19. According to the Center for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC), Covid-19 vaccines are recommended for people who fall under this category, as long as their medical conditions are controlled.
Several research studies have also proved the effectiveness of Covid-19 vaccines in preventing hospitalizations and deaths caused by Covid-19. For those with underlying conditions, results showed similar safety and efficacy in individuals with comorbidities and those without.