It’s the most wonderful time of the year! As the holiday season approaches, the threat of the pandemic is still present within our midst, and we are still trying to defeat this virus that has infected and killed millions of people all around the world. Everyone’s Christmas wish since 2019 wish was just to go back to the regular days and experience the joy the holiday season brings. Recently, together with the continuous efforts of our government and the willingness of the people to get vaccinated, 30% of the total population or 30 million people have already been vaccinated. And with that number, the total number of people being infected with Covid-19 has already been lowered resulting in having the alert level in NCR being brought down to level 2. As of today, the Philippines is considered a low-risk country thanks to the continuous vaccinations and efforts of everyone to follow the minimum public health standards set by the government.
Declaration of National Vaccination Days
Still, we are far from the “herd immunity” goal of the Philippine government and far from having a Covid-19-Free Philippines. That is why President Duterte signed Proclamation No. 1253, declaring dates November 29 – December 1, 2021, as “Bayanihan, Bakunahan, National Vaccination Days,” in the Philippines which aims to encourage more Filipinos to get vaccinated and be protected from the threat of Covid-19. The proclamation also states that all private employees and workers will not be considered as absent if they had their jab that day, provided that they present their proof of vaccination to their employers. Doctors, nurses, and all healthcare workers are also encouraged to give their full support to the upcoming National Vaccination Day. Local Government Units (LGU’s) are also called upon to mobilize all their resources in order to make this campaign as effective and efficient as possible. In one of Duterte’s talk to the nation, he urged all city mayors and governors to give their all-out support to this National Covid 19 vaccination campaign and give food to all the people who willingly let themselves be vaccinated. The sites where this campaign will be held will depend on the LGU’s, but it will usually be in schools, malls, and other areas that can accommodate a lot of people from senior citizens to kids. During the Covid 19 Vaccination Days, the Department of Health (DOH), together with the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), aims to administer 15 million shots of Covid-19 Vaccine that will add up to the total number of vaccinated people and hopefully will decrease the transmission of the virus within our country.
On the other hand, the Department of Justice (DOJ) seeks to include the persons deprived of liberty in the National Vaccination day. Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra stated, “I understand that we have millions of doses available for this big event, so this is the opportune time to consider the health of our PDLs who are at risk of infection due to prison overcrowding.” It is true that everyone, including persons deprived of liberty, is included in the said drive, and no one should be left behind. In addition, the vaccination rates inside the prison facilities under the Bureau of Correction remain low, with a total of 9.68% or 4,173 of the overall population of the inmates who are the only ones that are fully vaccinated. At the same time, 11,000 out of the 28,516 total population inside the New Bilibid Prison are partially vaccinated against the virus. It is really a must that we include these people, given that they cannot practice social distancing due to the limited space available; that is why they are more prone to infection and vulnerable to the disease.
These are the current vaccines that have an Emergency Use Authorization issued by the Food and Drug Administration; these additional doses of vaccines have gone through a series of tests to ensure the safety of the people who will get vaccinated by it: Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Sinovac Sinopharm, Covovax, Covaxin, Sputnik V, Jannsen, and Coronavac. Now, for those who will get their vaccines during the 3-day vaccination drive, you might be wondering how do these vaccines work? Well, let me help you by summarizing its effects and possible side effects once you have already had your shot. The vaccines, once injected into your body, will mimic the virus, and your body will get a response by creating “antibodies” that will help in diminishing the virus in your body. Now, once the “real” virus enters your system, your body will now have the antibodies it needs to eliminate Covid-19 and prevent you from having severe symptoms of the disease. Different vaccines have different ways on how to trigger your body to create antibodies; some make a genetic product, like the mRNA vaccines, which will generate protein copies without causing the virus to activate. While the others have inactivated, killed, or weakened parts of the virus to help your body create the protection it needs. Now, after getting vaccinated, some may have side effects, which is totally normal. Some may get a fever, and maybe your arms will get sore; it all depends on how your body reacts; that is why it is advised to stay at the vaccination site 15 minutes after you get the vaccine so that they can monitor any adverse reactions. After that, you’re all good to go! Just remember to come back for your 2nd shot and your booster shot to protect you from the virus further.
The government continues to remind us that getting vaccinated will not completely protect us from the virus, and it will only help us to avoid getting severe symptoms and also avoid being hospitalized due to Covid-19. That is why we should still follow the minimum health protocols given to us, like washing of hands at least 20 seconds to ensure the germs are wholly eliminated, wearing of face masks properly, and when we say properly, it should be covering your nose and mouth down to your chin. We should avoid touching it and reusing it. Physical distancing is also a must, with at least 6 feet apart from each other. All these are our contributions as a good citizen in helping our government and healthcare workers in combating our enemy.
Vaccination for the Holidays
The National Vaccination day won’t have an effect if we continue to disobey the health protocols. We should have a collaborative effort in defeating Covid-19. In our own little ways, we can help stop the spread of the virus. So, are we to expect a “Brighter and Joyful Christmas” this year? It is possible and doable together with the efforts of our government. Always remember that the choice is always up to us. We can go back to the days wherein the smiles could still be seen and not covered by facemasks, and we were not afraid of hugs and kisses, where concerts and parties were allowed without restrictions. We can still recover from this phase and give each and everyone a brighter tomorrow if we just continue our efforts and follow the rules. Christmas is just around the corner, and so is the virus. And as Filipinos, this season is one of the most anticipated because this somehow defines us and gives meaning to our lives. But I know that this virus will not stop us from celebrating the most wonderful time of the year.
Written by Aaron Cruz