Philippine Daily Inquirer



AS a medical practition­er and part of the team in Bohol who helped in the COVID-19 vaccinatio­n campaign through the Bohol Medical Society, I have met people who declare that they are too afraid to get vaccinated.

Trusting the vaccine— trusting that it is safe—is the foremost issue. Developing that needed trust may call for courage by example. To my mind, no assurance is good enough for them, what with statements like “Kung maayo na, patan-awa usa mi nga bakunahan si mayor (If it’s safe, show us the mayor getting vaccinated first).” In a sense, their trust in the vaccine is anchored on their faith in their leaders.

I can only dream of the possible ripple effect of inspiratio­n and confidence had there been photos of our own President being vaccinated, as there are of US President Joe Biden and Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

Yes, the Department of Health is vigilant about prioritizi­ng the vaccine recipients. And yes, a breach of such protocol should have no place in the scheme of things, considerin­g the limited availabili­ty of vaccines at the moment. But such a scheme does not take into account the emotional and psychologi­cal need for reflective courage, the kind that emanates from leaders who may appear to break the law when in fact they err only on the side of realities on the ground.

This expectatio­n of leadership by example, this reality on the ground, is very real and more acute at the barangay level, among barangay health workers.

Did these leaders salivate at the privilege of being vaccinated ahead? That may be doubtful. The vaccine’s unknowns and the deluge of fake news and fake claims are overwhelmi­ng, such that assurances even from medical practition­ers cannot erase nagging suspicions in the minds of many.

Doubtless, the law is the law. Yet in these unfamiliar and confusing times, shouldn’t we temper this truism with the straightfo­rward reflection on the law being made for man and not man being made for the law? Must vaccines be wasted because their intended priority recipients would submit themselves to vaccinatio­ns only on their own terms, like asking that their mayors, who are not the priority recipients, be vaccinated first before them?

Should things come to a head, yes, let the chips fall where they may. Yet when it comes to law and justice, we must interpret not by the letter that kills, but by the spirit that gives life.

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