As vaccine misinformation threatens one of the most promising tools to fight COVID-19, Benilde Red Cross Youth Council (BRCYC) launched the two-day webinar series “Vaxx to the Future” to debunk the common misconceptions regarding COVID-19 vaccines and to raise awareness about the available vaccines in the country. The event was held last June 11 to 12 through Facebook Live and Zoom.
The hosts for this two-day webinar event were BRCYC members Amanda Maria Raymundo, Janelle Ang, and Ma. Patricia Kapunan. Meanwhile, the guest speakers for the event featured Dr. Melvin Sanicas, a physician-scientist specializing in vaccines, infectious diseases, and global health; and Dr. Albert Francis E. Domingo, a health system specialist.
On the first day of the webinar series, Dr. Sanicas emphasized that COVID-19 is the first ever pandemic in the internet age wherein the world is not just fighting the virus, but also the infodemic or the misinformation that surrounds the virus.
Dr. Sanicas answered some frequently asked questions about the COVID-19 vaccines and cleared misconceptions that come with it, such as the effectiveness of today’s vaccines despite a short span of development.
According to him, COVID-19 vaccines were developed faster due to research data about coronaviruses for over 50 years, global collaboration with researchers from different countries, enough funding for vaccine research, and the advancement of science and technology.
Furthermore, he introduced a model called “Swiss Cheese Pandemic Defense,” which shows how people can, personally and collectively, mitigate the pandemic’s spread. The model explains the action that people can do to mitigate the virus.
In this model, the virus is stopped by multiple layers of defense, which can be imagined as cheese slices. Each layer has holes, and when the holes line up, the risk of infection increases. However, when many layers are combined such as social distancing, using masks, hand-washing, staying at home, ventilation, and government communications, the overall risk is greatly reduced. Moreover, vaccination will give another layer of protection.
For the second day of the webinar series, Dr. Domingo highlighted the importance and safety of the vaccines available, and emphasized the fact that getting a vaccine not only protects oneself, but also protects the people around them.
Dr. Domingo also discussed the science behind outbreak response, which is described as the SEIR model, that people are either Susceptible, Exposed, Infected, and then Recovered. In the Philippines, the government calls their strategy the PDITR: Prevent, Detect and Isolate, Treat, and Reintegrate. Hence, vaccination is seen as one of the endpoints.
He then explained the similarities and differences of each COVID-19 vaccine and showed how vaccines work and developed.
Dr. Domingo also highlighted that “vaccines are part of a vaccination campaign.” He showed a graphical diagram of how vaccines are distributed to the public and explained why vaccines are not accessible just through our local drugstore as there is a specific way of handling the vaccines.
“It is true that vaccination is not the only solution to end the pandemic, but it is definitely one of the major solutions to the problem,” Dr. Domingo concluded.
BRCYC is a recognized student organization of De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde and the Philippine Red Cross-Manila Chapter. The event was done with the help of Hotel, Restaurant, and Institution Management Society, Best Buddies Benilde, Greenergy DLS-CSB, and Benildean Student Envoys.
To stay updated on BRCYC’s upcoming events, follow their official Facebook page.