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This week, I issued an open letter to the unvaccinated. I was prompted by the increasing number of unvaccinated people getting very ill from COVID, no doubt needlessly since the vaccines are already available for them to take. This pandemic has already gone on far too long, and by now you would have heard of someone or known someone who died of COVID.
You may have probably noticed that some businesses in your town have closed or that some of your neighbors lost their jobs because their employers could no longer afford to keep them.
The unvaccinated were probably told to get vaccinated, but for one reason or another refused. It is quite clear that the pandemic will become protracted if we don’t vaccinate the majority of our population. Most of the population have already done their part, and now the wall of resistance from the unvaccinated is being felt.
Thus, I appeal to those who still have not gotten their vaccines, on behalf of Filipinos whose lives are being disrupted and livelihoods needlessly sacrificed, to please get vaccinated as soon as they are able to do so.
Taking the vaccine is a big step toward ending this crisis.
By getting vaccinated, they will have saved the old and the sick. They will not need to be confined at the hospital, and they will not be taking away healthcare from those who truly need it. By getting vaccinated, their bodies will not become host to new mutations of the virus.
By getting vaccinated, they will be free to go and live their lives without endangering themselves and others, or being burdened – every two weeks – with proving that they are not infected. By getting vaccinated, they will be able to embrace their family, travel, and live without fear.
By getting vaccinated, there will be no need for lockdowns, and businesses – especially the small ones – will be able to start over.
No doubt the virus will not go away and it will find every unvaccinated person. The unvaccinated may or may not get sick, but will it be the same for their spouses, their children, their parents, their friends?
Right now, the numbers are indeed frightening. Day after day, record numbers are being reported to have tested positive for the virus. It is also being reported that cases are mostly mild and that most of those who fell severely ill or are now being treated in the ICUs are unvaccinated or have co-morbidities.
It was a statistic we kept repeating last year: upwards of 90 percent of those who are being hospitalized are unvaccinated. While there were skeptics back then, today that fact is even harder to refute because the vaccines are here.
Our friends at OCTA Research have provided us at Go Negosyo the data that enables us to infer a correlation between infection rates and hospitalization risk levels, and it suggests that infection rates do not directly drive up hospitalizations, even in places where infection rates are high.
I believe this means that vaccines are doing their job: they are keeping people from getting severely ill, even as they test positive for the virus. This means it’s okay to have a sore throat, to have a fever or to have a cough. As long as you are vaccinated, nothing bad is going to happen to you and you should not panic. Vaccines work.
Still, there are still many out there who have not taken the vaccine, not even their first dose.
LGUs must continue to push harder to get them vaccinated. We have yet to see how an Omicron spread can affect provinces that do not have the same healthcare resources as the NCR and its surrounding cities. With hope, urban centers in the rest of the country have already achieved a sufficient level of vaccination so that the smaller communities around them will be protected.
Vaccinating most of the population will also protect those who cannot take the vaccine either because of their faith or their medical condition.
If there are still many who remain unvaccinated, a rise in severe and critical cases – which are usually among unvaccinated people – can easily overwhelm a city’s healthcare system. In real terms, what this means is that there will not even be enough beds, doctors, and nurses to care for non-COVID emergency cases like heart attacks or accident victims if there are simply too many COVID cases needing oxygen or being intubated at that moment.
When that happens, local governments will be forced to restrict mobility – lock down – to stop people from spreading the virus. In real terms, that means that small carinderias can’t open, workshops can’t operate, and as a result they won’t make enough money to pay their workers who they will eventually have to let go. Another form of long-term COVID is unemployment and businesses shutting down. Even longer-term is the country being unable to pay its debt (now in the trillions and counting), and eventually being shut out from borrowing any further.
What is really holding everybody hostage today are the fence-sitters. They are unnecessarily prolonging this pandemic and it is well in their power to help end it by getting vaccinated.