ONE of our neighbors, a senior citizen, finally got her jab of a vaccine yesterday. Health authorities here used the one-dose Johnson and Johnson variety. She held out when I was vaccinated weeks ago because of after-effect talk. But as more and more people in the neighborhood got their doses, she was able to gather her courage. When I went to the barangay hall to ask for the vaccination schedule for the young ones (my two sons are unvaccinated), she told me to ask the health workers “what should a senior citizen who changed her mind about vaccination do?” She was simply told to fill out a form and wait for the next vaccination schedule. It came yesterday.
The fear of vaccination here is mostly being spread by relatives, some of whom are living abroad. In the US, the spread of the delta variant of the virus is being compounded by superstitious views by groups who were supporters of former president Donald Trump in the elections. This had made it difficult for the US to achieve herd immunity despite the aggressive vaccination effort by the administration of the Democrat Joe Biden.
The fear of the so-called “pandemic of the unvaccinated” has become real there as more and more Covid 19 cases are being reported there. But what is happening in the US is not what is in the mind of President Duterte. What is happening in Indonesia is. Our neighbor-country was more aggressive in vaccination than us, but it is now experiencing a surge in Covid-19 infections.
The President has ordered the Department of the Interior and Local Government or DILG and the police to make sure that protocols are being implemented. The urgency with which the President made the announcement should open the eyes of local government officials who seem to be belittling the threat of the delta variant of the virus. Among those being banned are superspreader events that some officials are starting to allow again.
As I pointed out earlier, there is currently a loosening by authorities of the effort to stop the spread of the virus. More and more people are going out and minimum protocols are being discarded. There are even those who are discouraging the wearing of face masks. Physical distancing is no longer observed even in public transportation. And contact tracing is no longer aggressive.
I therefore hope that the President’s reminder would be heeded. We are experiencing an increase in infections in some regions. The fear is that this would become a surge in infections fueled by the delta variant of the virus. Thankfully, we are seeing the reinvigoration of the contact tracing work by the health department as far as the delta variant is concerned. The problem seems to be the lack of equipment although authorities are trying to solve it.
Local government officials who are pushing for the full reopening of the economy should consider the latest development on the pandemic. It’s not over yet. The worry should be back. Even officials in rich countries are beginning to worry. As the old saying goes, it’s better to be safe than sorry.