The Department of Health (DOH) today held a learning session for the media on reporting the COVID-19 vaccine deployment plans and possible adverse events following immunization. The session also aims to increase vaccine trust, address hesitancy on COVID-19 vaccines, and prepare media on their reportage of vaccine distribution.

“DOH recognizes the crucial role of the media in achieving the targets of immunizing the Filipinos against COVID-19. Surveys tell us that there is a significant amount of hesitancy among Filipinos specially that these vaccines are new. But what we want to become prominent in news articles is that vaccines work, it is safe and it can save lives,” Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III explained.

Vaccine Czar and Chief Implementer Carlito Galvez, Jr. asked the support of the media partners in explaining the COVID-19 vaccine deployment plan. “In these challenging times, the role of the media has never been more crucial, especially with the proliferation of unverified and fake news. Sa panahon ngayon, higit na nangangailangan ang ating mga kababayan ng tama, balanse at napapanahong balita,” he said.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Singh-Vergeire also said rumors, misinformation and disinformation regarding vaccines erode public confidence in vaccines. She added, “DOH acknowledges that media engagement is critical. The DOH and media are allies in disseminating factual information. Hence, we need accurate and factual reporting based on science. Through this Town Hall, we can dispel misinformation, avoid an infodemic and help our countrymen have a deeper understanding of the COVID-19 vaccines.”

During the session, Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje provided an overview on the National Vaccine Deployment Plan. She also addressed questions on prioritization and roles of other stakeholders, like private healthcare workers, in this immunization program. Meanwhile, World Health Organization Consultant Suzanne Brownlow Kerba discussed how vaccine safety should be communicated and how the media can report adverse events following immunization responsibly.

“While the DOH has rolled out its communication and advocacy campaigns for COVID-19 vaccines, we need to increase our reach, and our journalists and broadcasters are one of the trusted sources of information in the community. People believe what they see, hear or read in the news and with this impending vaccine rollout, we encourage our media partners to help us get the verified information about vaccines across to the public,” Duque concluded.