Green with (vaccine) envy

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    ‘While government has been all over the news to assure the public that the vaccines for the Philippines will come sometime this month, I suppose this envy will not be quelled until we see citizens actually receiving the much-sought after immunization.’

    UPDATES from family and friends abroad are always welcome, and the age of social media has made connecting with loved ones far from home a lot easier. Lately, though, a particular update—folks getting vaccinated—brings a mixed bag of reactions. Especially for those of us with loved ones in the health care industry, it brings a sigh of relief for their well-being; they are finally getting more protection for themselves so they can continue caring for the sick. The vaccines may very well turn the tide for our frontline workers, who have been bearing the brunt of this pandemic. I also know of senior citizens who have received the vaccine in other countries where the vaccination program is underway to protect the most vulnerable population.

    One cannot feel but a tiny (okay, a lot) tinge of envy when one receives updates like this, as well as reports from the news media that countries have started rolling out the vaccines in their areas. When will this start for this country we call home? While government has been all over the news to assure the public that the vaccines for the Philippines will come sometime this month, I suppose this envy will not be quelled until we see citizens actually receiving the much-sought after immunization.

    With all this talk of vaccines being rolled out in different parts of the globe, I was quite surprised to encounter a good number of people expressing some reluctance about getting the vaccine once it is available. Though I did not detect a hint of any anti-vaccination sentiment, a good number of those I spoke with on the matter have adopted a “wait-and-see” attitude, as they want to know more about how the vaccines work and possible side effects that receiving it may cause.

    There is also a growing concern about how those who will remain unvaccinated (by choice or by circumstance) will be treated by society in general—will they be denied the right to travel, or will they be prohibited from reporting for work in the future? Medical experts say that it will take some time for communities to reach herd immunity, along with a certain percentage of the population that has to receive the vaccine. These are just one of the many concerns that will mushroom along the way, especially if there are delays in getting these vaccines across the 7,000 islands.

    Already, I have heard of some employers imposing a 50% cut in salaries if personnel do not report to work on a rotational basis. As a colleague of mine said, this is unfair and should not be tolerated by the employees themselves. While I agree with the basic premise, I can understand why employees who experience this policy set by their employers will be reluctant to make a fuss to the labor department—times are already tough enough without losing your source of income. The hard truth is employees will continue to grin and bear any unfair policies imposed in order to keep their jobs and help keep their families afloat.

    These are real concerns that I hope our policy makers are aware of as they continue to struggle to implement an effective vaccine program for the country. Nobody wants to see them fail—for their failure will mean more hardship for the citizens they supposedly serve.

    Get to it, folks—there are millions of people waiting for you to get into gear and get this done.

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