FILIPINOS are divided on whether to receive Covid-19 vaccines, with only 55.9 percent of Filipinos willing to get vaccinated, a survey by UST Covid-19 Vaccine (UST-Covax) Awareness Team has found.

The survey, titled “Covid-19 Vaccine Hesitancy Survey in the Philippines,” was conducted through an open-access online survey from Jan. 16 to 30.

Of 15,561 respondents, 23.7 percent (3,701) answered “definitely yes” and 32.1 percent (5,017) said “probably yes” to the question, “If a vaccine for Covid-19 is available in the Philippines, would you use it?”

Thirty-four percent (5,304) were “unsure,” and 6.7 (1,042) and 3.5 percent (541) answered “definitely no” and “probably no,” respectively. 

Western vaccines

The survey also asked respondents to rate their confidence and preference in Covid-19 vaccines manufactured in three regions namely China, Russia and the West.

Among the three choices, vaccines made by European or American developers garnered the highest confidence rate at 75.3 percent; 38.6 percent were most confident in Russian vaccines; and 17.7 were in most confident of those made in China.

More than half (50.9 percent) of the respondents said they had no particular preference in Covid-19 vaccines and would use any one that is “safe and effective.”

Vaccines from the US and Europe were preferred by 45.7 percent of respondents; 2.3 percent preferred those made in Russia; and one percent were in favor of Chinese vaccines.

The UST-Covax team said the low confidence vaccines from China and Russia was worrisome as “vaccines made in these countries will be necessary to complete the vaccine portfolio that will allow our country to achieve herd immunity this year.”

To date, only vaccines by Pfizer-BioNTech from the US and AstraZeneca from the UK have been granted emergency use authorization by the Philippines’ Food and Drug Administration.

Other vaccines shortlisted for evaluation by the country’s vaccine expert panel are Sinovac, Sinopharm, Clover and Anhui Zhifei from China; Novavax and Moderna from the US; Bharat Biotech from India, Janssen from Belgium and Gamaleya from Russia.


The survey also determined respondents’ concerns over Covid-19 vaccines.

Ninety-eight percent were worried about fake vaccines; 92.7 percent were worried about side effects after receiving vaccines; 91.7 percent were concerned about vaccine safety; and 90.3 percent worried about vaccine efficacy.

The national government and local government units must reassure Filipinos that there are safety and security protocols in place to guarantee the integrity and authenticity of every vaccine dose deployed in the national vaccination program, the team said, noting that fears over fake vaccines were a “striking concern.”

Other concerns include vaccine effectivity vs new coronavirus variants (84.5 percent); lack of proper testing (83.5 percent); high cost of vaccines (82.3 percent); and the short time vaccines were developed (80.2 percent).

Nearly 8 of 10 Filipinos (77.2 percent) said they will only receive Covid-19 vaccines after many people have already been vaccinated and 71.6 percent said they will only get vaccinated after politicians receive the vaccines.

To allay the public’s fears over Covid-19 vaccines, the team said a “directed public awareness campaign to educate Filipinos so that they understand the scientific data that grounds the safety and efficacy of the Covid-19 vaccines” was needed.

Government officials, including the president, were also encouraged to get vaccinated in public to address vaccine hesitancy.

“We… urge the president and all members of the national and local governments to be vaccinated in public at the launch of the national vaccination campaign to reassure the Filipino people about the safety and efficacy of the vaccines,” the team said.

“Moreover, given the grave concerns raised by our respondents, we strongly recommend that all our politicians be vaccinated with the Chinese vaccines manufactured by Sinopharm or Sinovac.

“Filipinos believe more what they see rather than what they read,” it added.

Because the survey was conducted through social media, the team said that the data was not representative of the entire Filipino population but it offers a “snapshot of a significant fraction of the country that is educated and socially influential, all of whom would have to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity.” 

The UST-Covax Awareness Team also urged the national government and local government units to “work alongside religious authorities, especially the Catholic bishops of the Philippines, to reassure the Filipino people that it is morally licit to use these vaccines during this pandemic.”

The UST-Covax Awareness Team is led by Fr. Nicanor Austriaco, O.P., a molecular biologist and visiting professor from the Department of Biological Sciences, and composed of his industrial biology students and volunteers from the College of Fine Arts and Design.


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