Duterte to vaccine-hesitant Pinoys: Trust your government
“Believe the government and the people you elected in the government like me…if not, you will lengthen (the time before we reach) the herd immunity,” Duterte said.
Presidential Photo/Simeon Celi, Jr.

Duterte to vaccine-hesitant Pinoys: Trust your government

Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) - May 19, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — With a number of Filipinos still not keen on getting vaccinated, President Duterte warned that COVID-19’s cycle of infection will not be broken if the majority of Filipinos are not vaccinated.

“Believe the government and the people you elected in the government like me…if not, you will lengthen (the time before we reach) the herd immunity,” Duterte said.

“Kindly obey your government because… while there is a matter of your independence, we respect you. But if you do not want to get vaccinated, don’t leave your homes so you won’t infect the others,” Duterte said after a meeting on Monday on the country’s vaccination program and other issues.

Duterte was referring to Pulse Asia’s Feb. 22 to March 3 poll, showing that 61 percent do not want to get any COVID vaccine.

“Your fears are baseless. Your fears become our problems,” Duterte said, noting thousands have been vaccinated already and that reported deaths after getting the jabs are not attributed to the vaccine, but to the comorbidity.

According to the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations (GAVI), vaccine hesitancy has been one of the factors that hinder the vaccine targets of some countries. It said the refusal to get the vaccine is “more complex” and that it is a major issue even in wealthy countries.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. admitted that vaccine hesitancy remains a hurdle to herd immunity but said the Office of the Spokesperson will be creating another infomercial to inform the public about the benefits of vaccines.

“There are studies that show that 30 percent of population wants to be vaccinated. This is a big challenge to our communication effort and we plan to gave another infomercial,” Roque said.

Vaccinate A4 and A5

National Task Force against COVID-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said yesterday that President Duterte has approved his recommendation to start the vaccination of A4 and A5 priority sectors after the month of May.

“I want to announce to the public the approval of my recommendation to start vaccinating our countrymen in A4 and A5 priority sectors in the coming weeks in an effort to fast-track the government’s immunization program,” Galvez said.

About 12 million people belong in the A4 group, including employees of essential sectors like markets, grocery stores, food delivery services, commuter transport, media and education, as well as public utilities like electricity/water distribution, telecommunications, cable and internet. Church leaders and frontline employees working in financial services, hotels and accommodation establishments are also included in the group.

Meanwhile, the A5 group of 16 million people covers the indigent sector, including Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) beneficiaries.

Vaccine handling

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año assured the public that measures are in place to ensure that COVID-19 vaccines are properly handled at the local level, noting that 21,734 local government units (LGUs) are ready to execute their vaccination plans.

He also directed LGUs to check their cold storage facilities if these are capable of storing Pfizer vaccines, which require -18 degrees Celsius.

“They must check their existing cold chain storage and the needed logistical requirements,” Año said, adding that based on LGU master lists, at least 10 million people have signed up to get vaccinated.

In a statement, budget carrier Cebu Pacific announced the successful transport of 6,000 vaccine doses to Bacolod, 28,800 to Butuan, 46,400 to Cotabato, 28,800 to Cagayan de Oro, 5,000 to Puerto Princesa, and 30,800 to Zamboanga.

On May 17, it flew 4,360 doses to Virac, 81,400 doses to Tuguegarao and 9,800 for Masbate last Friday. Cebu Pacific said it carried over one million vaccine doses to 12 key domestic destinations since March. – Jose Rodel Clapano, Emmanuel Tupas, Richmond Mercurio

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