I felt like I’ve won an Olympic medal after getting my first shot of Sinovac—the most prevalent COVID-19 vaccine in the Philippines. It’s a brand many frowns upon, but I think it’s good to take what’s available.
Sure, I’m one of the many that’s skeptical about the effectivity of this China-made vaccine. Some figures put it just a little over 50% efficacy against the virus. If I had a choice, of course I’d pick other brands that claim over 90% efficacy. But guess what, none of those other brands are available! Should I wait when they become available? I could, but with the Delta variant creeping in slowly but surely in the country, there’s probably a bigger chance that I get COVID-19 first than the other vaccine brands! I think some protection is definitely better than no protection at all. It’s like running under a downpour with a small umbrella compared to having none. Besides, no vaccine provide 100% protection, but all of them claim to avoid fatality in case of infection.
I registered for the vaccine with the help of my employer. The city of Makati, where one of the Philippines’ major financial districts is located, agreed to inoculate every essential worker in the city, aside from its residents. I’m actually a relatively new resident of the city but getting a “valid” ID reflecting my Makati address is a challenge—especially in a pandemic—thus I had to exhaust all alternatives to get a jab. Eventually, we received a unique code from our employer for use in registering ourselves in the city’s vaccination program. It was a long wait until I finally received a text confirming my schedule for vaccination.
I think I was lucky that I was vaccinated in a well-ventilated area, the Makati Coliseum. It’s not as grandiose as more popular coliseums but it’s big enough to accommodate a lot of people while maintaining social distancing. The process was also pretty much streamlined, to the best of the limited resources they have, that everything is moving most of the time. The front-liners manning each step were also quite professional and very patient in answering all inquiries.
The process starts with validation by showing your text of your schedule and your ID. In my case that included showing a work ID or certificate of employment. You’ll be given a form that you need to sign while you wait for your vaccination card. Once called, you enter the premises and go through blood pressure check and a brief interview. Once you’re assessed as good to take the vaccine, you wait for your turn. Once it’s your turn, you’re asked which arm you’d like to take the jab. Due to an incident a while back, they now show the syringe with the vaccine before they inject it, and show it again empty after as proof that you really got inoculated. Personally, I don’t think it’s necessary but you know, social media might complain. Then you go to another queue so again have your blood pressure checked and be informed of dos and don’ts. They even provide 10 tablets of paracetamol in case of body pains and instructions on when to take them depending on the severity. Afterwards there’s a final queue before the exit. The entire process, from me arriving at the venue to leaving the premises, took about an hour and a half, but it didn’t feel that long as the queue keeps moving. There’s really just that many people in the line and there’s only so many people they can fit inside the coliseum.
Tip: Don’t forget to bring a pen!
If you haven’t received any COVID-19 vaccine and one is offered to you, don’t hesitate and take it! Literally millions have already been vaccinated and if there are serious side effects, it would’ve been identified. As per efficacy, no brand claims absolute immunity from the virus and it’s still too early to tell how long it will last, especially given the new variants that are evolving.
So, what’s the point of getting vaccinated? To put it simply, to stay alive in case you get COVID-19. If you’re vaccinated and got infected, your chances of survival are much better. Vaccines work. Trust science. Don’t wait for your preferred brand as COVID-19 doesn’t wait for anyone to infect.
Special thanks to all the selfless front-liners working hard and risking their health to make these mass vaccinations possible! Kudos as well to the person that inoculated me as it was the least painful one I can remember!