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VAX POPULI: PRSP’s Professional Development Session Tackles the Need to Drive COVID-19 Vaccine Acceptance

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As part of PRSP’s activities to impart information encouraging members to effect positive change through their work, the Society’s first ProfDev session for 2021 equipped participants with the knowledge to craft COVID-19 vaccine rollout communication strategies that would aid in the country’s efforts to achieve herd immunity. The webinar, which was mounted on April 20, was a joint initiative of the PRSP, International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) Philippines, and International Public Relations Association (IPRA) Philippines.

Titled VAX POPULI: DRIVING COVID-19 VACCINE ACCEPTANCE, the event also aimed to provide a platform for collaboration between the government and the private sector on vaccine awareness and acceptance, and to increase vaccine acceptance levels in participants’ organizations.

Invited to lead the discussion were three distinguished guests. McDonald’s Philippines Managing Director and Ingat Angat Tayong Lahat Communications Advocacy Co-Lead Margot Torres revealed what her group has been doing to rally the private sector to participate in the fight against COVID-19 and shared communication templates which participants can personalize and spread to promote information on the country’s vaccination program. Meanwhile, Dr. Mario Panaligan, president of the Philippine College of Physicians, debunked myths about the COVID-19 vaccine and explained why getting vaccinated sooner rather than later with the currently available vaccines is an important step to stem the deadly virus. Lastly, the Department of Health (DOH) Health Promotion Bureau Chief and Special Assistant to the Secretary Dr. Beverly Lorraine Ho discussed the RESBAKUNA campaign of the DOH and stressed the importance of harnessing communication to achieve COVID-19 herd immunity.

Herd immunity occurs when a substantial portion of the population is immune to a disease, in this case COVID-19, thus protecting individuals who have not developed immunity. The greater the proportion of a population that is immune to  COVID-19, the lower the probability that a susceptible person will come in contact with an infectious person. Herd immunity is beneficial to various segments of society including children who are too young to be vaccinated, the elderly who cannot mount an optimal immune response to a vaccine, people who have inadequate access to immunization, and people who remain unvaccinated by choice.

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Down to a SCience: First General Membership Meeting for 2021

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Members and friends of the Public Relations Society of the Philippines gathered online last April 7, 2021 to dissect the importance of science communication and to evaluate how PR professionals and science communicators can unite to contribute effectively to society amid the current global pandemic. This happened through our first general membership meeting (GMM) for 2021 titled, DOWN TO A SCIENCE: Science Communication in the Age of COVID-19

Guest of honor and keynote speaker Secretary Fortunato de la Peña of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) shared his valuable insights on topic. He stressed how communicating science to the people has been a challenge, and highlighted how the various projects and innovations of the DOST ought to be cascaded clearly to members of society so Filipinos may participate in these programs and benefit from them. The Secretary cited, among others, the department’s Starbooks project, which aims to provide students with access to learning and resource materials despite today’s quarantine restrictions, and the Filipino Patriot Scholars values formation program, which trains future innovators holistically and encourages them to develop a deep concern for their communities.

Secretary de la Peña ended his talk with challenges posed to the PRSP: 1) open networks of experts to work with the DOST for us to learn form each other; 2) support DOST projects in 2021; 3) help fight fake news in all forms; 4) teach DOST the art of communicating science and technology; and 5) help DOST prepare our people for the world of the fourth industrial revolution.

Also during the GMM, Secretary de la Peña inducted the Board of Trustees and Officers of the PRSP for 2021-2022. Sworn in were President–Norman Agatep, APR, President & Managing Director of Grupo Agatep; VP-Internal–Louie Sebastian, Director for Development Communications Concurrent Executive Director of PAGEONE Group; VP-Internal–Richard Arboleda, President & COO of EON The Stakeholder Relations Group; Secretary–Abi Ho-Torres, Assistant Vice President & Head for Advocacy and Marketing Department of Maynilad Water Services, Inc.; Treasurer–Joji Banzon, Director of Partnerships of Asian Institute of Management; Auditor–Franz Jonathan de la Fuente, Corporate Communications, Branding, and Special Projects Officer of the National Reinsurance Corporation of the Philippines; Trustee–Cathy Ileto, APR ,Senior Director for Corporate Marketing for Philippines, China & Malaysia and Social Impact Lead for Philippines Sutherland Global Services; Trustee Monching Cruz, CEO & Executive Creative Director of Media Wise; Trustee–Ferdinand Bondoy, CDM Regional Integration & Chief Executive Director of ComCo Southeast Asia; Adviser–Ritzi Villarico-Ronquillo, APR, Consultant, Business Communication & Strategic Public Relations; and Adviser–Andy Saracho, APR, Assistant Vice President-Head, Veterans Affairs Office of Philippine Veterans Bank.

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