Health and Wellness


If the vaccine has been promoted as the key to ending this nightmare of a pandemic, why are people so afraid of it?

/ 12 April 2021

For so long, we’ve ridden the wave of this pandemic with only the saving light of vaccination at the end of the tunnel, urging us forward. As the government have stated in the early days of this lockdown that our main solution was to wait out this pandemic until vaccines arrive, it has become the ultimate bearer of hope in a time so desolate and dark. But now that vaccines are beginning to arrive in the country and “The End” seems to be drawing near, why is there still so much fear?

There’s a number of reasons why people are still hesitant to receive the vaccine, despite the government’s encouragement to do so. This is not a mere local phenomenon, as people all over the world share the same hesitancy with getting inoculated, as perpetuated by social media’s fake news, misinformation, and horror stories from all over the world regarding vaccination programs gone wrong.

One of the most popular reasons for this fear is how fast the vaccines were produced. Typically, it takes a few years for vaccines to be approved as it needs sufficient research, testing, and layers of approval before it’s allowed for public use. In this case, however, given the urgency with which its production was executed, many people are doubtful of its safety and effectivity.

The answer to this concern, though, also lies in its urgency. As the whole world was put to a hold because of this global pandemic that’s affecting everyone, funding and research data were more readily accessible for experts’ use. On top of that, since the SARS virus caused Coronavirus, researchers didn’t need to start from scratch. This reduced production time by months, and maybe even years.

For Filipinos, another reason behind this general fear of the vaccine is the lack of accessible and easy-to-digest information about the different brands hoping to enter the market, and the seemingly lack of choice given the government’s insistence to promote Sinovac despite its [reported effectivity rate] of only 50%.

Because of this, misinformation is rampant across the country through social media with Filipinos trying to fill in the gaps with hearsay and opinions. Even medical experts’ personal posts online sometimes contradict one another, so it’s even more difficult to discern what to believe in this social climate.

This is the Department of Health’s shared data on vaccines:

Vaccine roll-out across the country have also been slow compared to other nations, so there hasn’t been a lot of successful cases to look at for encouragement.

Moreover, there have been stories circulating online regarding vaccinated individuals dying, instilling even more fear among the general population. Although, it was later on revealed that these deaths were due to the fact that they already had COVID-19 before being inoculated, resulting to an unexpected increase in risk.

These are just of the most common causes of fear for Filipinos regarding the vaccine, but it’s already enough to understand why it’s there in the first place. In a country where there’s a growing distrust between authorities, experts, and the people, information dissemination has been increasingly difficult. Hence, all this fear for the unknown and the known.

At this point, all we really know is that vaccines are crucial for the Philippines to go “back to normal,” whatever normal entails these days. But we need to replace fear with knowledge first to get there—and we need each other’s support, with the leadership of our government officials, for this to truly take place.