The COVID-19 vaccine is gradually becoming available around the world, and in the Philippines, preparations are underway for a vaccination program roll-out in the coming months. Vaccination plays a key role in ending the COVID-19 pandemic by preparing a person’s immune system to fight the virus, should you be exposed. This potentially helps to reduce its spread within entire communities.
At present, majority of Filipinos are still unwilling to receive the vaccine due to concerns over its safety, according to the latest Pulse Asia survey. This poses a challenge to the implementation plans of both local and national government units. To address this, the City Government of Manila has partnered with TikTok for #VaccineAlamin, a COVID-19 vaccine education campaign. #VaccineAlamin aims to boost awareness on the health benefits of immunization, and spread accurate information about the COVID-19 vaccine to the public.
The #VaccineAlamin Campaign was launched via TikTok Live last February 22. During the event, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno provided an overview of what local government units are doing to support the nationwide vaccination program. According to him, their goal is not to force people to get vaccinated, but instead encourage and help educate them, to enable more Filipinos to make informed decisions once the vaccination program is underway.
Mayor Isko identified fear and misinformation as two of the biggest barriers that need to be broken down. He said, “Kaya nagkaroon ng doubt ang ating mga kababayan, dahil dun sa nangyaring isang bakuna na medyo nagkaroon ng masamang impresyon ang mga mamamayan. Pangalawa, ‘yung mga misinformation about existing vaccines all over the world.”
The mayor also stressed the importance of communication, adding that the most effective strategy is to engage people, and make sure that they have access to factual information. He said, “I think it’s more on talking to the people, kaya kami nagpapasalamat sa TikTok, because this is a set of audience, because of its demographics, if we can use this type of outlet, malaking bagay kasi ‘yung tao directly makatatanong samin.” He adds, “Having TikTok nowadays, helps us. People are into it, so why not use it as a form of communication. Sa dami nang binabasa ng mga tao ngayon, sa dami ng pumapasok na impormasyon sa tao ngayon, kailangan maging catchy.”
Manila City Health Officer, Dr. Arnold Pangan, also spoke at the launch event. He explained some important things that people need to know about the vaccine. Dr. Pangan clarified that, while the vaccine protects you from suffering from a serious form of COVID-19, it is still possible to get the disease after being vaccinated against it. This is why it is important to still take precautions such as physical distancing and mask-wearing.
According to Dr. Pangan, “You may still be infected with the COVID-19 virus, tuloy-tuloy pa rin dapat ang ating pag-iingat kahit social distancing, kahit wearing of mask, kasi it’s not a guarantee. Pag nabakunahan ka na, ang maganda doon, you will be protected from having a severe form of COVID-19 infection.”
Members of the TikTok community can show their support for the #VaccineAlamin Campaign by using the hashtag, and sharing creative content filled with factual information about the virus and the vaccine to boost awareness. Whether it is a skit, a song, or a dance video, as long as it helps spread #VaccineAlamin’s message, it is sure to make a difference. Mayor Isko himself issued a challenge to TikTok creators to join the hashtag challenge in order to amplify the campaign. He said, “Create a video that will help inform others about #VaccineAlamin Campaign, i will copy it and tag you!”
TikTok values the safety of the entire community, and the #VaccineAlamin campaign is a great example for how the platform can be used to do good. Through its dynamic features like TikTok Live and hashtags, information dissemination becomes easy, enjoyable, and relatable, while still being meaningful and impactful. As CNN Philippines News Anchor, James Deakin, who hosted the launch event, said, “It’s such a pleasure to use this platform in a way that I never foresaw, but it is very effective. We just want to be able to reach out to as many people as possible. We’d like to thank TikTok for making this possible, for inviting us over here to share this information. As we keep saying, I hope it doesnt sound cliché, we’re all in this together.”