Celebs weigh in on which COVID vaccine is the best
Despite the arrival of some COVID-19 vaccine brands in the country, the government has seemingly failed to obtain the commitment of the general public to support its inoculation campaign.
In fact, a recent survey showed that only less than a third of Filipinos are willing to get vaccinated due to fear of potential side effects. This was despite the pronouncement of Carlito Galvez Jr., head of the country’s vaccine procurement efforts, to get the first vaccine that becomes available. “Let’s not wait for the best vaccine. There’s no such thing. The best one is the one that’s safe and effective, and arrives early,” Galvez said in a speech he delivered recently.
Opinions of show biz personalities on this matter contradict, too. While some celebrities say they want to get immunized to keep the virus from spreading and to get herd immunity going, others plan to hold off first until they learn more about the different products that are available.
As Inquirer Entertainment interviewed some of them, we realized that there is really no right or wrong answer and that their decision is ultimately based on self-preservation. Here are excerpts.
“I respect people who are apprehensive. I don’t blame them for any doubts or worries—it’s their body. But I would definitely want to get vaccinated when the opportunity comes my way,” said actress Jasmine Curtis-Smith, 26. “There are so many debates and discussions regarding which vaccine is the best. I understand the concerns of people; even I am concerned about that.”
Jasmine said one should practice critical thinking. “We have to also weigh it out. Why is this brand supposed to be better for only for this age group? Should I just get this one instead? Also, you can’t just say you will take this particular one because this is what the government is offering,” she explained.
“Let’s do our own research. If you’re not getting the information you need from people who are supposed to be disseminating it, I’m sure it’s available online. I’m sure there are articles published abroad about the different brands,” she further said.
For Jasmine, getting vaccinated is also shielding each other from the virus. “Let’s try to really get this herd immunity going,” she declared. “The concerns of those with small businesses is that while they’re trying to secure vaccines for their employees, 70 percent of their employees don’t want the vaccine. If they can’t force their employees to take the vaccines, how are they going to operate while making sure that their customers are safe? At the same time, they want to keep their employees safe from potential infected customers, too.”
The actress added: “It’s really a matter of doing your own research but, if I can encourage you, please do get a vaccine so that we can all be safe from each other and from the virus.”
“That’s a very touchy and sensitive issue for a lot of people,” said singer Jaya, 51. “My belief is that we should have our own decision when it comes to vaccination. We shouldn’t do something just because we feel that the whole world is doing it.”
She added: “You need to research. You need to find out about that vaccine that you’re going to put inside your body. Just one shot, and that’s it! Once it’s inside you, there’s no way to get it out. This is why I’m weighing my options first.”
Jaya, however, pointed out that “this is a personal decision, I don’t want anyone to follow me. I’m just saying that I want to wait and see first what the best vaccine for me is out there. Speaking as someone who is probably healthy, I still think we have to prioritize people with comorbidities. I’m simply waiting for more to come out, as far as the choices we have for vaccines are concerned.”
Jaya did say that if the time comes when she really needs to decide, “then I will come up with that decision and do what I have to. But as of now, I feel very safe. I know that at work, people around me are doing everything to ensure that we have a safe working environment, even without the vaccine,” she said.
For actor Jake Cuenca, 33, to become jobless is not the worst thing that can happen to a celebrity during this pandemic, “but to actually get sick of COVID-19.”
He revealed that he has some family members who have gotten infected but recovered. “It’s sad that it happened to them now. We have been effectively fighting this for a long time. It’s good that we now have vaccines to help us. I just told them to make sure they’re safe. Delayed reaction lang ang Philippines, but we have managed to successfully combat it,” he said.
Jake added that while he has been seeing in the news about the possibility of the vaccines having side effects, he and his family have decided that they will all get inoculated.
“For me, more than the vaccine, it’s really about staying healthy. Since the beginning of the pandemic, my priority is to be as healthy as I can be. I work out. I go to the gym. I take vitamins everyday,” Jake pointed out. “I also think it’s going to come to a point when getting a vaccine will become a requirement for work. Obviously, if you ask any actor right now, 90 percent of us want to work. If that will be the case, I’ll say ‘yes’ to getting vaccinated; but I will also make sure to stay away from unhealthy stuff.”
“To be honest, I really don’t know,” said comedienne Candy Pangilinan, 48, when Inquirer Entertainment asked if she’d be willing to get vaccinated.
Candy admitted to feeling confused. “I’m also very afraid. A lot of my doctor friends are telling me, ‘huwag muna Candy!’ but others are saying, ‘tirahin mo na!” I’m like, ‘ano ba talaga?’ I really don’t know!”
Candy lives with her mom, now a senior citizen, and 16-year-old son Quentin who was diagnosed with autism when he was just over a year old.
“Am I a bad person if I say I would like to wait and see first what will happen to those who already got vaccinated before I make a decision for my family? Although I have signed up for it, I still want to do some research first,” she declared. “Also, I have yet to ask Quentin’s doctor if it’s OK for him to get one, too.”
Candy said she personally knows people who have gotten infected and recovered from the virus, “and they’re saying that more than the physical, it’s really the mental battle that wears you down. You don’t know what will happen to you. I’m just saying that experiencing side effects (from the vaccine) can be equally scary, too.”
“I think it’s our duty to do whatever we can as a human race to end the pandemic. The model of this would be Israel. People there are very patriotic. I’m not entirely sure if they were given the choice. I think it’s more like they were told that, ‘We have to end this together!’” said singer Rachel Alejandro, 47.
“This is what the scientists have told us. They’re sort of trustworthy people. They’re considered as experts. Although it seems that everything was rushed, they say they didn’t cut any corners when it came to developing these vaccines,” she pointed out. “To those who say they prefer to wait it out first—while you are perfectly well within your right to do so—my point is that, if you don’t want to get vaccinated even though you already have the opportunity to do so, then don’t go out of the house,” she said.
For Rachel, as you exercise your right as an individual you shouldn’t also affect or harm other individuals around you. “That may be controversial because people will say, ‘this is my body!’ Fine! No problem. Don’t get vaccinated, but stay home.”
Rachel, who is currently living in New York with her journalist husband Carlos Santamaria, advised: “Go and get the vaccine when you can, as soon as you can, when it becomes available to you. Here in the United States, it’s kind of slow-going. The new administration, I think, is doing a fairly decent job. They said all adults will have access to the vaccine by the end of May. We’re keeping our fingers crossed. I know that in the Philippines some vaccines have arrived, so I say, ‘go go go, guys!”
TV host Boy Abunda, said he first wanted to be “very cautious and judicious” in deciding on whether or not to get vaccinated.
“Because I’m no longer 18 or 30 or even 40 years old anymore, I’d like to be very careful. My priority is to take care of myself. I want to strengthen my immune system. I want to eat the right kind of food, to have enough sleep in order to fight this virus. I’ve managed to do this for a year without a vaccine, so I’d like to continue doing so,” he declared.
Boy said he would probably “entertain the idea of vaccination” around September or October of this year. He first wanted to “watch the world” as it gets inoculated, he said.
“I have a doctor friend who said, ‘I’m done with my first dose. I will let you know what happens.’ I first want professional advice on what’s best for me. For now, ayoko muna,” Boy pointed out.
Meanwhile, Boy said he is doing his research. “I’m in a wait-and-see stance. I’d like to know more, to talk to more medical experts. I even called a friend, an infectious medicine expert from St. Luke’s Hospital, to ask him to explain everything to me because I said I’d like to know more so that when I arrive at the decision as to whether I want me and my family vaccinated, I will be well informed.” INQ
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