Health workers' vaccine hesitancy may affect public confidence, says expert

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 26) — A member of the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NITAG) said vaccine hesitancy among healthcare workers may negatively affect confidence of the public, causing more roadblocks in encouraging Filipinos to be vaccinated.

Dr. Nina Castillo-Carandang, a sociologist and professor from the University of the Philippines Manila, told a briefing on Friday that reluctance of health workers to be inoculated against coronavirus could send the wrong signal to the general public.

“We always look up to our healthcare workers for good examples of how to take better care of ourselves, so if our healthcare workers are reluctant to accept vaccination then that also sends a signal to the general public,” she pointed out.

Castillo-Carandang said this as the country awaits the arrival of 600,000 doses of China’s Sinovac vaccine that will be first administered to health workers in COVID-19 dedicated hospitals despite concerns on its efficacy.

Netizens have mixed opinions on the matter.

During a briefing, Health Spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire announced that the country’s experts have agreed to recommend the use of the CoronaVac vaccine to health workers. Experts said it will be best for these workers to receive the vaccine to give them the protection they need, but they are also given the freedom to decide whether to take it or not.

“You may not like the current brand available, but if you think that your risk is high at this point in time… then you also have to think about how much worth is it for you to actually have the Sinovac vaccine,” Castillo-Carandang said.

If they opt out, they will still be prioritized in the next batch of vaccines to arrive, which unfortunately is still unsure when to arrive, officials said.

Nurses’ groups agreed that receiving the Sinovac vaccine should be one’s choice.

Maristela Abenojar, national president of Filipino Nurses United, said the decision to decline the vaccine should not be taken against these workers.

Meanwhile, Melbert Reyes, president of the Philippine Nurses Association, said it is better to have sure supply of vaccines than nothing at all, but “quality” vaccines should be prioritized.

Ang (The) bottom line, there is this need to be vaccinated as soon as possible,” Reyes noted.