Fear-inducing unknowns about vaccines against COVID-19 have prompted the Cottages Resorts and Restaurant Association of El Nido, Inc. (CRRAEN) to ramp up its campaign to eliminate vaccination anxiety among frontline tourism workers.
Raffy Nur, president of CRRAEN, said while many are willing to get immunized to help speed up the return to near-normalcy of tourism activities in their town, more are still fearful of vaccination.
He claims that false news stories concerning fatal side effects, including the conspiracy belief that software mogul Bill Gates has placed microchips in vaccines to control billions of people, have created apprehension among individuals who work in their town’s tourist sector.
“Sa hanay namin, medyo nagkaka-problema kami kasi yong iba medyo natatakot sa vaccine. Kinakausap ko yong mga officers ko, sabi ko i-encourage nila… or yong mga fellow business owners na member ng grupo namin, na i-encourage yong staff nila magpa-bakuna na dahil baka in the future, i-require ito ng Department of Tourism (DOT), at hindi sila magkaroon ng trabaho since hindi sila bakunado,” Nur said.
He said their campaign to dispel fear among them is usually done in chat groups as they are the only way at the moment to reach their members and their employees.
According to local authorities, there are over 7,000 workers and frontliners in the tourism sector in El Nido, and many of them aren’t well-informed about the vaccines and their offer of protection to an individual against the coronavirus disease.
“Kesyo kapag nagpa bakuna ka, mamamatay, conspiracy dahil kay Bill Gates, yan yong mga madalas kung naririnig. Marami talaga ang hindi well-informed,” he said.
CRRAEN hopes that something can be done to speed up the government’s immunization program in El Nido, as well as the delivery of the vaccines that are required, according to Nur.
He acknowledged that there may be delays since the Philippines is a “third world nation” and is likely last on the list of countries that placed orders, but he believes the government can do something if it wants economic recovery.
“[Sana] more on… sana mabilis na pagba-vaccine. Siguro hindi rin ito mainly fault ng government, pero it’s just that may pera sila, nakapag-order sila ng maaga. Mas maagang dumating ang vaccine nila,” he said.
If getting vaccinated offers the potential of reviving the country’s tourist sector, Nur said the government should make every effort to accelerate vaccination, particularly among essential economic workers.