The anti-vaxxers won’t like the results of a recent survey among Filipino workers: an overwhelming majority of respondents said they trust the efficacy and safety of vaccines.
And only less than a tenth said they don’t want to be vaccinated.
Called The Philippine Roadmap to the Next Normal, the 2021 PhilCare Wellness Index study found 82.1% either agree or strongly agree with the statement “I trust the efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines” and 81.3% doing the same with the statement “I trust the safety of Covid-19 vaccines.”
On the other hand, 7.6% registered disapproval for vaccines.
The study was conducted among 1,500 respondents via a nationwide telephone survey from Sepy. 4 to 20, 2021. It was the fourth of its kind from the HMO company that launched the Philippines’ first Wellness Index survey in 2014. The previous one was conducted in September last year.
More results that won’t sit well with anti-vaxxers: 88.1% either agreed or strongly agreed, “It is my right to be vaccinated against Covid-19” and 84.1% either agreed or strongly agreed, “Getting vaccinated against Covid-19 is a way to protect others.”
However, there’s still a long way to go to reach herd immunity. Only 26.2% of the survey respondents have been completely vaccinated, and that figure is even much higher than the 19.8% that the Department of Health has reported as of October 3.
At the current pace of vaccination, experts estimate herd immunity for the country will be achieved in August 2022 when about 77 million of the population will have already received two vaccine shots.
Until then Filipino workers might be more and more comfortable going out to attend to their necessities moving forward, the other findings of the 2021 PhilCare study suggest, of course barring any major negative developments in the near future.
Going to the hospital, supermarket
Respondents of this year’s study said they are more comfortable to go to the hospital now compared to the start of the pandemic, with a mean score of 3.05 (“neither”) from a score of 3.93 (“disagree”) in the 2020 survey.
They have also become more comfortable in going to the supermarket, with the score jumping from 2.85 (“neither”) to 2.46 (“agree”).
Two other findings reflect a somewhat more relaxed attitude now. While working Filipinos still “strongly agree” about washing hands properly, with a score of 1.43, this is significantly lower than the 1.15 score for the same behavior last year. The same goes for disinfecting items bought outside before bringing them into the house, which also declined from 1.49 to 1.67.
“With the study, we get a better picture of how Filipino workers have adjusted after more than a year into the pandemic and how going through the new normal affects their health and wellness,” said Dr. Fernando Paragas during the presentation of the study results to the media. A professor at the College of Mass Communication at the University of the Philippines-Diliman, Dr. Paragas is the lead researcher of the 2021 PhilCare Wellness Index and.
The study also took a look at the respondents’ current work setups and their preferences moving forward. Half (49.9%) said they worked entirely in their respective work sites, while two-fifths (36.2%) work both at home and on-site. The rest (13.9%) work entirely from home.
But given a choice of their preferred work arrangements, roughly half (48.7%) are willing to take on the hybrid work set-up in the next six months. Around a third (35%) would continue going to their respective places of work, while the rest (16.3%) would work entirely in their homes.
Respondents agreed that their workplace was adapting well to the pandemic, especially in the following terms: having a clear strategy to respond to the economic impact of the pandemic (87.2%); having a good system in place to ensure their safety as employees during the pandemic (86.7%); and having a program for promoting their health and wellness as employees (85.3%).
However, despite the high marks given for the pandemic preparedness in the workplace, respondents “strongly agree” they are stressed at the thought of being exposed to COVID-19 (1.73 points) and taking care of personal and family needs while working (1.78 points).
"For this year’s study, we wanted to bring attention to our workers and their health and well-being. Our employees are the lifeblood of our companies, which power the economy. Simply said, taking care of our workforce is also taking care of our economy,” noted PhilCare Chairman Monico V. Jacob.
For his part, former Health Secretary Dr. Enrique Ona, who is chairman of the 2021 PhilCare Wellness Index study, said: “We found it very important to conduct this very relevant study at a time when people are raring to return to their workplaces while conducting them in a safe manner since the virus. At the end of the day, we want to help the economy and our fellow Filipinos move past our current situation into a healthier and safer next normal.”
The first PhilCare Wellness Index study, conducted in 2014, sought to determine the self-rated health and wellness of Filipinos. It was repeated in 2019. Last year’s edition focused on the impact of the pandemic.
For this year’s study, PhilCare president and CEO Jaeger L. Tanco said it was undertaken to determine the state of health and wellness of employed Filipino workers who are at the center of concerted efforts to reopen the economy and reinvigorate business and industry.
“People obviously play a very key role in the effort of businesses—and the country in general—to recover from the effects of the pandemic. This study was developed and implemented with the goal of finding out how prepared employees are as they navigate the transition between the COVID-19 new normal and the prospective next normal.”
However that next normal plays out one thing seems certain. The anti-vaxxers will still be around, unvaccinated, yes, but somehow protected as more and more people get inoculated until herd immunity is achieved.