Dr. Edgardo E. Tulin

“If a vaccine becomes readily available here in VSU, I will be the first one to publicize my inoculation to show the community that the vaccine is safe.”

Dr. Edgardo E. Tulin, Visayas State University President and University Professor of Biotechnology, pronounced this emphatically during a locally organized public webinar on COVID-19 vaccines, held on February 23, 2021.

Hosted by the Department of Biotechnology (DBt), the webinar featured a talk by Dr. Adelito D. Posas, a medical doctor, and pulmonologist from Medical Mission Group and Hospital in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan.

In his presentation, Dr. Posas highlighted the importance of having leaders, politicians, and celebrities to be publicly vaccinated against COVID-19 to build trust and quell doubts about the safety of vaccines among Filipinos.

President Tulin made his remarks after the speaker’s talk and the open forum, to address the hesitancy that emerged during the discussions.

In a recent online survey spearheaded by researchers of the University of Santo Tomas (UST), it revealed that around 9 out of 10 Filipinos are worried about the safety and authenticity of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Another survey conducted by the Social Weather Station (SWS) released in January 2021 also showed that 47% of the respondents said they do not want to be vaccinated even if the doses are already available with only 32% agreeing to be inoculated while 21% of them are undecided.

In a pre-webinar survey conducted by the organizers of this event, participants were asked if they are willing to take the COVID-19 vaccine. Among those who responded to the informal survey, only 38.9% said yes while a huge 60.1% were undecided.

If this negative public sentiment continues, vaccine hesitancy will result in more COVID-19 infections and may cause continued loss of life within the country because of the pandemic.

Dr. Adelito D. Posas
(Dr. Adelito D. Posas keynotes the public webinar on the COVID-19 vaccine here in VSU.)

Vaccine is critical in solving the pandemic

During the webinar, Dr. Posas presented the importance of vaccination, why public hesitancy should be immediately addressed, and the stringent process of vaccine development and testing prior to mass vaccination.

“It is only through an effective and intensive mass vaccination program that will make our societies return to normal,” the resource person emphasized.

Dr. Posas also added that it should be the goal of any government to have vaccines available for all people while continuously educating everyone about vaccine safety to effectively immunize Filipinos against COVID-19.

“Immunization with a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine is a critical component of the strategy to reduce COVID-19 related illness, hospitalizations, deaths, and to help restore societal functioning,” Dr. Posas shared.

To improve public understanding of the COVID-19 vaccines, the webinar also extensively discussed the different types of vaccines that are currently available worldwide.

While emphasizing the general safety of all vaccines, Dr. Posas also elaborated on the types of people who are advised not to immediately get the COVID-19 vaccine based on recent research data.

These are people with previous severe or immediate allergic reactions to COVID-19 vaccine doses or its components, those who are younger than 16 years old (because the vaccine hasn’t been tested with this age group), people who are currently experiencing the symptoms of COVID-19, pregnant and breastfeeding women, those who have immune-compromising conditions, and people who are on anticoagulant medications.

President Tulin also expressed his deep appreciation for the resource person and the webinar organizers for spearheading such a timely and informative event.

“I thank Dr. Posas and the webinar organizers for conducting this very educational event. We need to contribute in fixing public understanding of vaccines and VSU being a science university should do something on that aspect to ensure that more people will get vaccinated when this becomes readily available for everyone,” Dr. Tulin concludes.

Dr. Tulin also revealed that the Philippine Commission on Higher Education (CHED) has considered VSU to be a vaccination site when the COVID-19 arrives in the country because educators are on the priority list to get vaccinated.

A quick post-webinar survey showed a very significant increase (83%) in the number of participants who expressed willingness to get inoculated while 15% are still undecided about getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

This webinar was co-presented by the University Services for Health, Emergency, and Rescue (USHER) and served as a kickoff activity of the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) month celebration.

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