Sinovac, Pfizer top COVID-19 vaccines preferred by adult Filipinos

A recent nationwide survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) found that coronavirus vaccines developed by Sinovac Biotech, and Pfizer and BioNTech topped a list of shots preferred by adults in the Philippines. 

The non-commissioned survey – conducted from April 28 to May 2, 2021 and released on Monday, May 24 – found that 39% of adult Filipinos said they preferred Sinovac’s vaccine, while 32% preferred Pfizer’s vaccine if they “could choose the brand of vaccine approved by the Food and Drug Administration of the Philippines.”

Following this, SWS said 22% chose the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford while 10% chose Johnson & Johnson’s (Janssen Pharmaceuticals) vaccine.

Other vaccines chosen were the following: 

  • 7% - Moderna 
  • 3% - CureVac 
  • 3% - Sinopharm 
  • 3% - Novavax 
  • 3% - Sanofi-GSK 
  • 2% - Gamaleya Research Institute 

Another 2% chose all 10 vaccine brands, while 19% did not provide an answer, SWS said. 

The survey was done using face-to-face interviews of 1,200 adults nationwide: 300 each in Balance Luzon, Metro Manila, the Visayas, and Mindanao. The sampling error margins were ±3% for national percentages and ±6% for Balance Luzon, Metro Manila, the Visayas, and Mindanao.

The survey had been conducted over two months since the launch of the Philippines’ COVID-19 vaccine drive on March 1. At the time of the survey, vaccines from Sinovac, AstraZeneca, and Gamaleya were among those available in the government’s vaccine program. 

The findings from SWS’ survey come days after the local government units in Metro Manila saw an influx in the number of people seeking to get vaccinated, following the arrival of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. 

The increase in the number of people at vaccination sites prompted the Department of Health to propose that local governments refrain from announcing which vaccines will be made available in specific sites in advance and to avoid using vaccine brands to drive up confidence in vaccination programs. Instead, the DOH said recipients will be informed of vaccines they will get once they are one site to avoid crowds that could compromise the safety of vaccination centers. 

Sinovac most preferred in Mindanao

The SWS reported Sinovac’s vaccine was the most preferred brand in Mindanao with 44% of respondents in the area choosing this shot. The vaccine was equally preferred with Pfizer’s jab in Metro Manila (both at 37%) and Balance Luzon (36% and 33%, respectively), it added. 

The survey found that the preference of Pfizer’s shot also increased with the level of education obtained. “It topped among college graduates (46%), compared to junior high school graduates (36%), elementary graduates (26%), and non-elementary graduates (21%),” SWS said. 

US top country for vaccine source

Asked the question, “If you could choose the country of origin of the vaccine approved by the FDA of the Philippines, which of the following would you choose?” 63% of respondents said they preferred vaccines sources from the United States. 

The US was distantly followed by China at 19%, Japan, Australia, and the United Kingdom at 13%, respectively; Canada at 12%, and Russia at 12%. The SWS said 8% preferred Germany as the source of vaccines, followed by Korea at 6%, and India at 3%. 

Another 2% chose all 10 countries, while 12% did not give an answer. 

The SWS said the US was the most preferred vaccines in all areas of the country, with 66% of respondents in Visayas, 65% in Balance Luzon, 63% in Metro Manila, and 54% in Mindanao choosing the US as its top country of origin for vaccines. 

The survey firm also found that preference for the US increase with the level of education obtained. It was highest among college graduates (67%), followed by junior high school graduates (66%), elementary graduates (58%), and non-elementary graduates (55%).

Meanwhile, the SWS found that 66% of respondents who chose China as their preferred source of vaccines also chose Sinovac as their top shot. Finding were similar for AstraZeneca’s vaccine, with its highest preference score seen among those who chose the United Kingdom as their preferred source for vaccines.

Both Pfizer and Sinovac’s shot were “equally chosen” by those who preferred vaccines sourced from the US. 

“For the rest of the countries tested in the survey, brand preferences showed no clear connection with the country of origin,” SWS said. 

The SWS said that for questions on the preference of brands and countries as vaccine sources, it observed a higher percentage of non-responses “among the less educated respondents.”

Vaccine hesitancy lingers

An earlier survey from the SWS conducted during the same period found that only three out of 10 Filipinos said they would be willing to get vaccinated against COVID-19, months after the government started its vaccination campaign. Almost as many adult Filipinos (33%) said they were unwilling to get vaccinated, while 35% others were uncertain.

Since the Philippines rolled out COVID-19 vaccines, lawmakers have urged health and pandemic officials, as well as local government to step up vaccine information campaigns to curb rising hesitancy over vaccines. 

The Department of Health itself had acknowledged that uptake in vaccines had been affected by Filipinos’ preference for certain vaccine brands, though public health officials have urged the public to receive vaccines made available to them at the soonest possible time. 

Health experts emphasized that vaccine efficacies against symptomatic COVID-19 are difficult to compare across brands due to a number of factors and that all vaccines available so far meet the crucial criteria of lessening hospitalizations and deaths due to the disease. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.

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