News Commentary

WHO urges 2022 poll candidates to advocate for COVID-19 vaccination

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com
WHO urges 2022 poll candidates to advocate for COVID-19 vaccination
A medical worker prepares a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a coliseum in Makati City, suburban Manila on November 29, 2021, as the Southeast Asian nation launched a three-day vaccination drive targeting nine million people as young as 12 in an effort to accelerate the roll-out of jabs, amidst the threat of heavily mutated coronavirus variant Omicron.
AFP/Ted Aljibe

MANILA, Philippines — The World Health Organization called on candidates in the May 2022 elections to encourage the public to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and follow minimum public health standards during campaigns. 

“I wish that every candidate will advocate for people to go and get their vaccines because this is coming together as a country. This is putting the national interest ahead of your own political interests,” Rabindra Abeyasinghe, WHO representative to the Philippines, said in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel.

Since the vaccination rollout began in March, over 43.02 million people have completed vaccination against COVID-19. Meanwhile, 55.97 million individuals have received partial protection.

The government is conducting the second phase of the massive immunization drive, which targets to bring the country to its goal of inoculating 54 million Filipinos against COVID-19 by year-end.

Abeyasinghe also urged politicians to set an example in following health protocols.

“I wish every candidate becomes an example, wears their masks, and tries to maintain physical distancing,” the WHO official said.

“We see too many people getting too close together. The only consolation is many of these meetings are outdoors. But even outdoors, if you’re not wearing masks and if you’re getting together too close, there is that risk,” he added.

The Philippines reported Wednesday the detection of the first two cases of the heavily-mutated Omicron variant of COVID-19. Early studies suggest that Omicron, the heavily-mutated variant first detected by South Africa, can be resistant to vaccines and is more transmissible than the Delta variant. 

Last week, the Department of Health called on candidates to avoid holding campaign sorties that will result in overcrowding. 

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