Duterte says he's ready to waive COVID-19 vaccine
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is greeted upon his arrival at the Malacañan Palace to attend the 51st Cabinet Meeting on February 3, 2021.
Presidential Photo/Simeon Celi

Duterte says he's ready to waive COVID-19 vaccine

Alexis Romero (Philstar.com) - April 13, 2021 - 6:45pm

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte is ready to give up his COVID-19 vaccine slot, saying most senior citizens like him are no longer productive but Malacañang is hopeful that his view will change once the Philippines obtains a steady supply of pandemic jabs.

During a pre-recorded public address last Monday, the 76-year-old Duterte said people who have more chances of living productively should be prioritized in the vaccination.

"I will waive my slot. If you are above 70 years old, what will you get from dreaming? Dream of what? Living until kingdom come?" the president said in Filipino.  

"I am that fatalistic actually. I have always believed that if it's my time, either it would be COVID or a bullet or an accident. I do not have those illusions about life and death. If anyone wants to have it, they can have it. We are not in the priority (list) anyway," he added.

"Let us prioritize those who will still live long. Well, come to think of it actually, let us prioritize those who, when given a vaccine, there’s a chance that he would live and live productively."

Senior citizens are among the priorities in the government's vaccination program. They belong to the A2 group, which is only lower than healthcare workers or the A1 classification.  

Duterte said only a few senior citizens are working in government.

"Most of the senior citizens are no longer that productive, except those who were elected as congressmen, senators because they really have a work to do," Duterte said.

"After this, I have nothing to look forward to. Maybe spend a little bit of time with the family, then time to go. We can no longer contribute much to the country. In our age, if we are not elected, that's the way it is," he added.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque claimed that Duterte's refusal to receive a COVID-19 shot was just temporary.

"Well, what he said was a temporary sentiment. He said since we do not have enough vaccines yet, he would let our countrymen receive the vaccines before him. So I hope that will change because more supplies will arrive especially in the month of May and June," Roque said at a press briefing Tuesday.
Roque clarified that vaccine confidence remains important but is not a problem for now because of limited vaccine supply.

"Maybe if our supplies arrive and since we need to fast-track the vaccination of everyone, that would be the time for the president to be inoculated," the Palace spokesman said.
Duterte previously said he would follow the advice of his doctor on what COVID-19 shots to take. Last February, Roque said Duterte was willing to be vaccinated in public to improve the Filipinos' confidence on COVID-19 jabs.

The government expects the delivery of more than 16 million vaccine doses within the second quarter, the bulk of them scheduled to arrive in June. A total of 13.5 million doses of COVID-19 shots are scheduled to arrive in July and as much as 20 million doses each are expected to be delivered in August and September.

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