In a Pulse Asia survey conducted from February 22 to March 3, 61 percent of the respondents said they weren’t keen on getting inoculated with the COVID-19 vaccine. Of those willing to be vaccinated, 52 percent preferred the US-made Pfizer over the China-manufactured Sinovac (22 percent).
Little has changed since that survey two months ago. As of May 15, only .62 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated. Experts attribute the low number to the slow (or as Manila Mayor Isko Moreno put it, “super bagal”) vaccine deployment, as well as people’s unshakable vaccine hesitancy.
Fueled no doubt by the controversy surrounding the dengue vaccine Dengvaxia, vaccine hesitancy in the Philippines is real and it is preventing sectors after the priority groups (healthcare workers, senior citizens, persons with comorbidities) from getting their shots.
Still, there are those who see the value in the vaccine and have gotten inoculated despite stories of side effects or the possibility of catching COVID-19 even after complete jabs. Arianne Arenas’ grandparents, 81-year-old Delfin Buensuceso Jr. and his wife Elenita, 78, are two of them.
The 22-year-old junior project officer of the University of the Philippines Centre International de Formation des Authorités et Leaders (UP-CIFAL) tells us their experience.
When and Where Were Your Grandparents Vaccinated?
Both my grandparents were vaccinated at the People’s Center in Balanga, Bataan. Their first dose was on April 14, their second on May 6. The initiative was through the local government unit and both received Sinovac as that was what was available during their schedule. (Read: Meet the First Three Individuals to Receive COVID-19 Vaccine in the PH)
Did They Experience Any Side Effects?
During the initial dose of the vaccine, my grandfather (who underwent coronary bypass surgery a few years back and is diagnosed with hypertension) had high blood pressure, which resulted in him being monitored prior to release. He was monitored for 30 minutes and given water. After that, there were no other side effects.
My grandmother experienced slight pain on the vaccination site two hours after vaccination. We advised her to continue her normal routine and monitor the pain. Luckily, it subsided after two days. (Read: 3 Things to Do After Getting Your COVID-19 Vaccine)
Did They Express Any Vaccine Hesitancy?
Not really. My grandparents have always believed in science, facts, and studies, so when asked if they were willing to be listed and take the vaccine, there was no hesitation. (Read: Govt Confirms Arrival of Pfizer Vaccines, Warns Against Fake Doses)
Although when they were notified that Sinovac was the only available vaccine during that time, they immediately consulted with their kids (my mom and their other two daughters). They hesitated because of the initial news that Sinovac wasn’t recommended for senior citizens. But upon consulting with their children, they decided to take it for their safety and benefit.
How Do Your Grandparents Feel About Their Decision to Get Vaccinated?
They feel a lot more secure after the vaccination— but they still follow COVID-19 protocols such as staying at home and wearing facemasks and shields. (Read: Improper Mask Wearing May Soon Land You In Jail – Here’s Why)
I believe if given the chance, they would encourage and convince more people to get vaccinated. They would be able to share that no adverse consequences would come from keeping yourself safe, and ensure that those around you are safe as well.