Every day, we make choices: from deciding what to snack on to choosing which tasks to prioritize. The effect of our choices may be as seemingly insignificant as racking our brain choosing between cake or ice cream, or catastrophic as missing crucial work deadlines.
But while our choices may affect us personally, the government’s choices affect everyone, taxpayer or not. And recently, for the worse, as it told us not to be “picky” with the COVID-19 vaccines that it said would be available by the third quarter of the year.
In a televised press briefing today, Jan. 11, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said that although everyone has the right to health, Filipinos can’t afford to be “picky” with the vaccines they’d be getting as part of the government’s free COVID-19 vaccination drive.
“Totoo po, meron tayong lahat na karapatan para sa mabuting kalusugan pero hindi naman po pwede na pihikan dahil napakaraming Pilipino na dapat turukan,” Roque said.
(It is true that we all have the right to good health but we cannot afford to be picky because there are so many Filipinos who need to be inoculated.)
Plus, he said, those currently on the priority list who don’t want to get vaccinated would have to sign a document waiving their spot on the list, and would then have to wait with the rest (unlike the PSG).
“So tama lang naman po ’yan, walang pilian kasi hindi naman natin makokontrol talaga kung ano ang darating, at libre po ito,” he added.
(It’s only right because we really cannot choose which vaccine would arrive first, and besides, it’s free.)
We shouldn’t be gaslit into thinking that we’re being too picky because we’re exercising our right to health and demanding accountability and transparency, but here we are.
Now let’s get this straight: Just because it’s a free vaccination program, we’d have to accept whatever vaccine brand the government gets? Though they’re securing deals with multiple vaccine brands (2.6 million doses of British brand AstraZeneca and 30 million doses of Indian-made Covovax vaccine), the government is highlighting the one from the controversial Sinovac, which received one of the lowest efficacy rates among the available vaccine brands.
If the government truly wants the best for its people’s health, then how does acquiring millions of doses of a vaccine that’s “nothing spectacular” (their words, though it recorded 65.3 percent efficiency in tests conducted in Indonesia) yet is more expensive, address that? We shouldn’t be gaslit into thinking that we’re being too picky because we’re exercising our right to health and demanding accountability and transparency, but here we are.
And newsflash, if you’re still defending this mess: Even if the money spent on those incoming vaccine doses are technically from billion-peso loans, guess who’s going to pay for them? Yeah, you and me, maybe even several generations after ours.
If we and future gens are gonna pay for those vaccines anyway, shouldn’t we be allowed to choose which brand we’d like? Ya feel?
Photo from Inquirer