Almost half or 47 percent of 2,400 adult Filipinos interviewed said they would not get themselves vaccinated against COVID-19, 32 percent would get themselves vaccinated, with 21 percent undecided, an independent Pulse Asia survey revealed Thursday.
Results of the survey, conducted from Nov 23 to Dec 2, suggested the prevailing opinion was most popular in Visayas (55 percent), followed by Mindanao (48 percent), Balance Luzon (46 percent), and Metro Manila (41 percent).
At the same time, the majority of Filipinos wear face masks to avoid contracting COVID-19, according to the survey.
The use of face masks is most complied with in Metro Manila, with 74 percent of respondents saying they abide by the protocol, followed by Visayas (68 percent), Balance Luzon (66 percent), and Mindanao (60 percent).
Some 71 percent said they observe regular handwashing and 32 percent said they remain home when it’s unnecessary to go out to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the survey showed.
Concern about the safety of the vaccines, at 84 percent, is primarily the restraining reason of those who said they would not get vaccinated, according to the survey which had a sampling error margin of ±2 percent for national percentages, Pulse Asia said.
The sentiment was highest in Metro Manila at 89 percent, followed by Visayas at 88 percent, Balance Luzon at 84 percent, and Mindanao at 79 percent.
Meantime, some 5 percent said a vaccination was not required to combat COVID-19, while 7 percent were concerned that it might not be free, and 4 percent said it might be expensive.
The government must exert more effort in its vaccination campaigns after a decline in confidence following the Dengvaxia controversy, health reform advocate Tony Leachon earlier said.
In the latter part of 2017, the government stopped its nationwide dengue vaccination program and pulled Dengvaxia off the market after drugmaker Sanofi warned that the vaccine might cause severe symptoms if given to those who did not have prior exposure to the mosquito-borne disease.
An OCTA Research Group study earlier found that only 25 percent of Metro Manila residents were willing to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The capital region is home to roughly a tenth of the Philippines’ 110 million population.
The 75 percent vaccine hesitancy is “very dangerous,” former Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral earlier said.
“We need to make them understand that vaccines are effective and safe. And that if they take it, the chances of developing this dreaded coronavirus illness are going to be reduced by a very significant number,” she told ANC.
“We need to make sure that we reach everybody with the correct information so that they can choose for themselves whether they will accept the vaccine or not.”
The Philippines is expected to begin its COVID-19 vaccination program in the second quarter as the first batch of its order from AstraZeneca is scheduled to arrive in May.
The country as of Wednesday reported 480,737 cases of COVID-19, with 22,690 active infections. It has yet to detect the new coronavirus variant, the health department said.
An OCTA Research team survey, meanwhile, said the majority of Metro Manila residents followed health standards but not always.
When it comes to the wearing of face masks, compliance is at 93 percent, according to the non-commissioned scientific poll, which surveyed 600 people from Metro Manila aged 18 and above from December 9 to 13, 2020.
But slightly fewer at 89 percent practice the regular washing of hands. When it comes to wearing face shields, 83 percent said they complied with it while only 73 percent said they observed physical distancing.
The OCTA group, composed of professors from the University of the Philippines, the University of Santo Tomas, and Providence College in the United States, said their study has a sampling error of ±4 percent.
Also included in the survey are other measures taken to avoid being infected with COVID-19. Half (52 percent) of the respondents said they stayed at home when it was not necessary to go out.
Less than half of the respondents or 48 percent said they prayed, the same percentage of those who cover their nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing.
Only 44 percent said they took vitamins while only 37 percent said they avoided crowded places.
Prof. Ranjit Rye of OCTA told the media that it was important to note that not all respondents followed the health protocols every day.
The percentage of daily or regular compliance went down with other health standards. Only 77 percent said they “always” washed their hands several times a day while 73 percent said they always covered their nose and mouth when coughing.
The Philippines logged 1,353 new coronavirus disease 2019 cases, bringing the total number of cases to 482,083, as three laboratories failed to submit their data on time, the Department of Health (DOH) reported.
There are 23,675 active cases, which is 4.9 percent of the total cases. Of the active cases, 82.3 percent are mild; 8.4 percent are asymptomatic; 5.8 percent are critical; 3.1 percent are severe; and 0.48 percent are moderate.
Top cities and provinces with new cases are Rizal, 63; Laguna, 62; Marikina, 60; Quezon City, 58; and Davao City, 54.
The DOH also reported 360 patients have recovered recently, bringing the total recoveries to 449,052, which is 93.1 percent of the total.
ICU bed capacity
The DOH also reported that, nationwide, of the approximately 2,100 total ICU bed capacity, 61 percent are available; of the approximately 16,100 total isolation bed capacity, 64 percent are available; of the approximately 7,600 total ward capacity, 76 percent are available; and of the approximately 2,100 total units of ventilators, 76 percent are available.
The DOH earlier reported that the passenger from the Philippines who was found to have a new coronavirus variant in Hong Kong was a 30-year-old domestic helper from Cagayan Valley. She is in stable condition while in isolation.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said it was “possible” that she contracted the new variant in Hong Kong.
Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano on Thursday pushed for a credible “vaccine passport” as proof of inoculation that will allow Filipino travelers to reconnect with the rest of the country and the world.
Cayetano said the vaccine passport was not just a public health initiative, but also a key element in bringing back public confidence and reviving the economy.
“It is therefore essential that we immediately establish a credible certification system — a Vaccine Passport — which will allow Filipino travelers to reconnect with the rest of the country and the world,” Cayetano said.
He made the proposal after the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases rolled out the government’s coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccination road map.
Under the road map, 50 million to 70 million Filipinos will be vaccinated this year, starting with health care workers, the vulnerable, indigent seniors, poor communities, uniformed personnel, teachers and school workers, government workers, essential workers, vulnerable and co-morbid groups, OFWs, other remaining workforce, and students.
Senator Nancy Binay on Thursday urged the government to deputize small teams as safety marshals in charge of monitoring quarantine facilities with a specific task to ensure “staycation” rules are followed.
“The IATF and the Department of Tourism may need to consider deploying safety marshals to ensure that quarantine and health protocols are followed,” she said.
Binay also said this can fill the gaps of hotels and resorts, and also government-designated quarantine facilities.
The senator’s suggestion was in light of reported wholesale lapses in tourism establishments and government-designated quarantine facilities.
She cited the case of City Garden Grand Hotel, which figured in the news lately because of the death of flight attendant Christine Angelica Dacera.
Binay said barangay watchmen, assisted by a health officer, could be tapped as marshals, with the IATF/DOT briefing them for proper monitoring,
Besides checking if health/safety protocols are enforced in establishments, Binay said the marshals would also be tasked with inspecting if establishments had proper waste disposal measures.
The senator also suggested that the IATF expand the marshals’ coverage in the future, with small teams deployed to handle hygiene and sanitation requirements of restaurants, malls, stores, and other commercial establishments to track workplace and community safety.
She also said that accountability mechanisms should be in place to deter abuse.
The use of saliva test for cheaper and faster COVID-19 detection in the Philippines has a big chance of being approved, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said Thursday.
“The chances are big. It’s just undergoing validation. We just want to ascertain that the results are accurate and really with very high concordance rate or agreement with the swab way of collecting the specimen for our RT-PCR testing,” Duque said in an interview on ANC.
Senator Richard Gordon, chairman of the Philippine Red Cross, said the government is taking too long in approving saliva tests.
He said that once the government gave its go signal, the PRC could offer this to the public in one to two weeks.