Vaccine hesitancy in Lanao del Sur blamed on fake news

Dr. Alinader Minalang administers an anti-COVID vaccine on Gov. Mamintal Adiong Jr. Photo courtesy of IPHO Lanao del Sur

MARAWI CITY (MindaNews / 26 November) – Fake news on the purported side effects of anti-COVID-19 vaccines has led to the low turnout of vaccination in Lanao del Sur, officials said.

In a conference on Tuesday, the health cluster of the province’s Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Disease said 60,250 out of the 691,795 target eligible individuals have been fully vaccinated.

The figure, which excludes the capital Marawi City, is only 8.7 percent of the target population, Dr. Alinader Minalang, Provincial Health Officer said in the report.

Minalang said the fake news being circulated in communities included rumors that those who get vaccinated will die after two years, become zombies, and that the vaccines are laced with microchips that can locate a person’s location and change his/her DNA.

Lanao del Sur will join the three-day “Bayanihan Bakunahan” on November 29 to December 1 to address the low turnout of vaccination and attain herd immunity in the province.

The vaccination drive will include individuals belonging to the A1 to A5 categories, Minalang said.

“If we could not reach the target 100,000 doses per day, we will continue with the mass vaccination,” he said.

He added they have 15,781 doses of Sinovac vaccines, 592 doses of AstraZeneca, 11,060 doses of Sinopharm, 24,920 of Moderna, and 5,850 doses of Pfizer.

He said various government agencies, Muslim religious leaders, the business sector, the police and military have committed to lend their personnel and resources to the three-day vaccination drive.

Governor Mamintal Adiong Jr. urged the residents to to get vaccinated to protect themselves and their families as well.

He assured the vaccine is halal and safe.

“What is important is we have to save lives,” he said.

Meanwhile, Marlon Libot, Chief of Party of Marawi Response Project that Plan International funded by the USAID gave a total of 34,864 personal protective equipment and 54,896 disinfectants to 53 Rural Health Units in the province.

She added the project also undertook an information campaign to encourage more people to get vaccinated and convert the hesitancy into vaccine confidence.

Dr. Shalimar Rakiin, medical director of Amai Pakpak Medical Center in Marawi said the hospital will serve as one of the vaccination centers for “Bayanihan Bakunahan.”

After the massive vaccination drive the hospital will require watchers and other persons who wish to enter it to present a vaccination card showing that he or she has received at least the first dose, Rakiin said.

This will ensure the safety of the patients confined at the hospital, she said.

Adiong, who chairs the local IATF, warned residents not to fall for fake vaccine cards circulating in the province.

He warned that holders of fake vaccine cards will face legal sanctions. (Richel V. Umel/MindaNews)