Scare them Straight



We were walking down a quiet subdivision street when my companion was called by a woman from one of the houses along the road. The woman seemed like someone from the barangay government. My companion was given a stub for the vaccination which would be on the next day. Of course, she wasn’t a senior citizen. I guess one of those checklist entries that she must have checked qualified her to be among those who have comorbidity. Well, whatever the case may be, thank God for the opportunity to be vaccinated. The following day, the lady senior citizens in church were all giddy for the schedule of Janssen vaccination as if they were going to some Tupperware or birthday party. (Do we still have Tupperware parties today?) They were in animated spirits, asking each other if they were really coming and at what time they will go to the vaccination center. I did not expect this sort of response. Weeks ago, their blood pressure would shoot up at the mention of “vaccine”.


It turned out that the weekend was a wave of vaccinations for senior citizens and persons with comorbidity for a one dose shot of Janssen vaccine. Gather around now, all you who flee from Sinovac as if it were equivalent to the plague of corona virus. This is your chance. This comes as a surprise. We are well aware that we have a bulk load with Sinovac because that seems to be the favoured product of the national government, maybe because the President is chums with China. Recently, there was a shipment of Pfizer which was distributed all over Manila. I know that LGU Naga made an order of AstraZeneca. Moderna serves pancit and pambonete. But we seldom heard about Janssen coming here. Setting aside the issue of efficacy, this is better because it is given in only one dose; no more coming back for a second dose. That decreases the probability of the vaccine recipient missing out on the second shot, which according to reports has occurred to a large percentage of the population.


I notice a slow shift of opinion among the people regarding the vaccine. As the twilight sky slowly creeps from dark to gray to blue, I am quite surprised that people who used to be anti-vaccine, paranoid, undecided, those who used to take strong, vocal opposition against the vaccine, and those who remain quiet because they were too shy to show that they were scared to get a shot, have become willing, voluntary, excited, and at times have become passionate to fight for their right at a slot in the vaccination and a fair distribution of the inoculation. Of course, we welcome this development, especially that anti-vaxers have suddenly become pro-vaxers without so much of a fight or argument.


What could have cause this shift in the tectonic plates? It seems that those who were once afraid have changed sides and become agreeable because of the alarm of the Delta variant. Yes, if the Alpha, Beta and the Gamma did not scare them enough, bring in the big guns of the force of Delta. That ought to scare them straight running fast to the vaccination centers, with their sleeves already rolled up. So, that’s what we have long needed to rally around together to work towards herd immunity, and usher in some semblance of normalcy so that the economy could slowly open up, so that employment could return to growth, so that schools could start to hold face to face classes. It turns out that we needed something creepier, more chilling and more blood curdling than the corona virus variant which has become commonplace. For so long, the government and the private sector have been blowing the bullhorn in advocacy campaigns for all Filipinos to not be choosy and get the shots. For months, authorities have encouraged the common folk to get vaccinated for personal protection, and the encouragement goes further to the vaccine’s protection of our families. Government authorities and celebrities almost plead on public service announcements for Filipinos to set aside fears and conspiracy theories and get vaccinated. Private companies bought bulk of the injection to be given free to employees. Discounts were offered to fully vaccinated citizens (But then again, those who were first to be fully vaccinated already get more discount in restaurants because they have senior citizen cards.) The President even threatened people who would refuse vaccination.


We now realize that the ultimate inspiration for people is not the welfare of the family, not the welfare of society in the recovery of economy in the opening up of businesses and availability of employment, not the welfare of children and youth in the restoration of conventional mode of education. Oh no, people don’t seem to care so much about nation and society.


We will get up when we get all the more threatened.


“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God,…” -Psalm 56:3-4