"What were they thinking?"
We are appalled to hear reports that some unscrupulous individuals have been trying to make money selling vaccination slots.
One resident of Las Pinas City narrated that a college classmate had called him to ask if he wanted AstraZeneca or Pfizer vaccines and that he could get a vaccination slot in Mandaluyong City if he agreed.
The offer was for P12,500—and it was because they knew each other. To strangers, the price could go as high as P15,500. There are reports of similar offers in San Juan City,
Local government executives are now reminding people that the vaccine is free and that they should not fall for such offers. Indeed, while there are those who refuse to get themselves vaccinated out of a fear of the unknown, there are also those who would do anything—including paying a hefty fee—for the opportunity to get jabbed as soon as they could.
Clearly, this reflects desperation over the fact that the government is unable to provide vaccines fast and efficiently.
Then again, it is incomprehensible how some individuals can think of duping their fellowmen especially at a time of crisis.
Another incomprehensible thing are the mass gatherings—outings by the pool, to be exact—that have turned out to be superspreader events. A resort in Caloocan City was photographed on Mother’s Day with dozens of people frolicking in the water as if there were no pandemic. At least 20 have tested positive for COVID-19. In Quezon City, a pool party held May 11 resulted in the COVID infection of at least 54. In Norzagaray, Bulacan, more than 2,000 individuals are being investigated for swimming in the river.
We can imagine that after more than a year in lockdown, people have grown frustrated with restrictions and now want to resume socializing with relatives and friends—the weather makes swimming parties even more attractive. It smacks of desperation, too, to return to old practices after more than a year. Perhaps the picnickers thought the fact that they were outdoors mitigated the risk. Or perhaps their desire for normalcy simply outweighed those risks.
Nonetheless, the responsibility of curbing these tendencies lies with the resort owners or those who have a say in allowing or disallowing such gatherings. Indeed the mass gatherings make for good business, and economic activity is something we want to restore as soon as possible. But the thoughtless opening of establishments, with obvious disregard for established precaution, could only be done by somebody utterly careless, or utterly greedy, or both. Punishments should be meted out to send a strong message to others who might be tempted to follow suit.
Again and again, we should remind ourselves and educate others that restrictions have been loosened not because it is already safe to go out and that we will achieve herd immunity soon. Rather, some activity is permitted because we need some economic activity to keep our economy—hence jobs and businesses—afloat.
There is an unspoken understanding that all this is a compromise: We can enjoy a little bit more freedom provided we take it upon ourselves to remain as cautious as we can. Alas, after all these incidents, “unspoken” may be overrated; it might be better to shout words of caution from the proverbial rooftop, over and over again.