PNP warns anti-vaxxers planning mass protests

Emmanuel Tupas - The Philippine Star
PNP warns anti-vaxxers planning mass protests
PNP Chief P/Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, a press conference at Camp Crame in Quezon City, May 28, 2021.
Boy Santos, file

MANILA, Philippines — Anti-vaxxers – people who do not believe in inoculations against COVID-19 – were warned by the Philippine National Police (PNP) yesterday against any mass action to protest the government’s vaccination program.

Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, PNP chief, issued the warning after receiving information that a group of anti-vaxxers has been encouraging netizens on social media platforms to stage a rally this month.

Eleazar did not name the group, but said: “While we respect the right of the people to freedom of expression and even the decision of some people to refuse vaccination, encouraging our kababayans to do something that would compromise public health is a different matter.”

Since rallies held amid the threat of the Delta variant of COVID-19 would endanger public health, the PNP is now looking into legal action, he said.

“But I hope we would not have to reach that kind of situation,” he added.

Eleazar called on the public to refrain from holding physical rallies as it could lead to a surge in COVID-19 infections.

“Your right to hold protest actions ends when the right of the most number of our kababayans to be safe from COVID-19 starts,” he said.

Record jabs

The government’s COVID-19 vaccination drive continues to pick up pace, hitting a new record of over 680,000 jabs administered in a day.

“We jabbed our highest ever yesterday, 680,883 jabs on Aug. 3, nationwide,” said National Task Force against COVID-19 deputy chief implementer Vince Dizon during the town hall meeting organized by Go Negosyo yesterday.

The record number was also revealed by Health Secretary Francisco Duque III at the hearing of the House health committee on the status of the country’s pandemic response.

“Last July 27, we set the highest number of vaccination per day at 660,000 jabs. Now we have surpassed this and already reached 680,000 jabs per day. And this is beyond our target of 500,000 per day,” Duque told the committee.

The Department of Health (DOH) reported an average of 529,911 doses administered daily in the period July 28 to Aug. 3, allowing the government to meet its weekly target of three million jabs.

To be exact, a total of 3,709,376 jabs were given during the same week, Duque said.

At the same hearing, the DOH chief also justified the decision to place the National Capital Region under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) from Aug. 6 to 20.

“We have proven the effectiveness of ECQ when we had a surge last year, around July and August. We saw continuous reduction in the number of cases beginning September and October,” he said.

Meanwhile at the town hall meeting, Dizon said the country now has almost 22 million jabs administered.

Of this number, 12 million were administered as first doses and almost 10 million as second doses.

“And by tomorrow, I think we will be having a milestone of 10 million Filipinos fully vaccinated. This is really a tremendous accomplishment from all of us – national government, local government and private sector,” Dizon said.

He said the target for the month of August is to administer up to 15 million doses.

Vaccine supply

The DOH said the government is expecting to receive around 22.7 million doses of vaccines from different sources this month.

The Bureau of Customs (BOC) confirmed that the third shipment of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, consisting of 3,000,060 doses, arrived and was released to the DOH last Tuesday.

The shipment arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 from the United States via Qatar Airways Flight QR928 at 4:10 p.m. and then delivered to the DOH-designated Pharmaserv Cold Storage Facility.

BOC-NAIA district collector Mimel Talusan said more than 37 million vaccine doses have already been facilitated by the BOC so far.

These include 19.5 million Sinovac jabs, 7.7 million AstraZeneca shots, 3 million Johnson & Johnson jabs, 3 million Pfizer doses, 3.5 million are Moderna jabs and 350,000 Sputnik V doses.

About 17 million more Moderna doses are expected to arrive in the coming weeks and months.

‘Convince the elderly’

At a public briefing, DOH-Health Promotion Bureau director Dr. Beverly Ho said the relatives and friends of senior citizens should keep on trying to convince them to get vaccinated.

“Seniors do listen to people close to them. It could be their families, friends, fellow seniors, mahjong or chess playmates, or their own health care providers,” Ho said.

She also urged local government units to ensure that their COVID-19 immunization programs are easily accessible to the elderly and make sure that the system gives them priority.

Data showed that out of the 8.5 million senior citizens masterlisted for vaccination, only 2.69 million or 32.57 percent are fully vaccinated. – Louella Desiderio, Edu Punay, Rudy Santos

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