Duterte takes responsibility for COVID-19 vaccine shortage in Philippines

Alexis Romero - Philstar.com
Duterte takes responsibility for COVID-19 vaccine shortage in Philippines
President Rodrigo Duterte receives his second shot of COVID-19 vaccine administered by Health Secretary Francisco Duque III prior to his talk to the people at the Malacañang Golf (Malago) Clubhouse in Malacañang Park, Manila on July 12, 2021.
Presidential photo / King Rodriguez

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte took responsibility for the shortage in COVID-19 jabs this year as he reiterated that the government has enough funds to buy vaccines for the entire population.

Duterte said the Philippines had difficulties securing enough pandemic shots because it has no vaccine manufacturers and had to scramble for supplies with other countries.

"That gave me a problem. If there's anyone who was at fault there, I would just admit it because I could not do anything. I wanted to buy but I could not find any seller. If I compete with the rich ones in the purchase of vaccines, I would lag behind. So that's what you have to understand," Duterte said in Filipino during a public address last Monday.

"Now, if someone committed a mistake there, it would be one else but me. I would admit it," he added.

Duterte, nevertheless, assured the public that the government has the money to purchase more jabs and to carry out the vaccination program.
"Fortunately, we have some money. According to (Finance) Secretary (Carlos) Dominguez (III), we have the money. We have the money to pay for the vaccines for all Filipinos," the President said.

Officials have given assurances that the Philippines has a steady supply of pandemic shots, saying some 100 million vaccine doses are expected to be delivered this month.

Last Monday, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the sufficient vaccine supply made it possible for the government to open the inoculation program to the general population and to minors who are 12 to 17 years old. The latest shipments that have arrived in the country include the 918,450 doses of Pfizer jabs that is part of the 1.8 million doses donated by the US through the COVAX Facility, the 3.49 million doses of Moderna shots purchased by the national government and the private sector; and the 661,100 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines acquired by the private sector.

Vaccination targets

Duterte said he was optimistic that the country's major cities and provinces would meet their vaccination goals before Christmas.

He noted that close to 50 million doses of COVID-19 jabs have been administered, including 23 million complete doses. More than 7.5 million persons in Metro Manila or almost 77% of the region's target population have been fully vaccinated.

"The challenge is now to further speed up our vaccination rollout, especially in the provinces, in the key cities and municipalities to achieve our target of at least 50% of the country’s target population by the end of the year," Duterte said.  

"We are confident that the most, if not all, major cities in the country will be hit and even surpass this target before Christmas, I hope," he added.

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chairman Benhur Abalos said the capital region aims to vaccinate 86% of its eligible population by November 10.

"We can achieve it," he said.


Despite the rising number of fully inoculated persons, Duterte admitted that vaccine hesitation remains a problem.

He said the problem could be addressed by vaccinating those who are against the inoculation while they are asleep.

"Iyan ang problema ‘yung ayaw, ayaw magpabakuna. Kaya hanapin ninyo ‘yan sa barangay ninyo. Akyatin natin ‘pag tulog at turukin natin habang natutulog para makumpleto ‘yung istorya (That's the problem, those who do not want to get vaccinated. Look for them in your barangay. Let's go to their places and while they are sleeping, inject the vaccine on them so the story can be completed)," Duterte said.

"Eh kung ayaw, eh ‘di akyatin sa bahay eh, tusukin natin sa gabi (If they do not want it, let's go to their house, vaccinate them at night)...I will lead the journey," he added.

It was unclear if Duterte was serious when he made the remark. Informed consent is needed to get vaccinated against COVID-19

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