Duterte ready to receive coronavirus vaccine

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte | Malacañang photo by Karl Norman Alonzo

PHILIPPINE President Rodrigo Duterte is prepared to receive the COVID-19 vaccine to assure the public it is safe and effective to use.

“Ang Presidente po ay hindi na makapaghintay (The president can’t wait),” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque told reporters on Monday, December 7.

“Gusto niyang turukan na siya nang mapakita sa buong bayan na ligtas at epektibo, ito po’y dumaan sa experts panel group ng pinakadalubhasang Pilipino at yan po ay it comes with their highest endorsement (He wants to be vaccinated to show the nation that it’s safe and effective and it underwent the experts panel group and came with their highest endorsement),” he added.

According to Roque, Duterte is the “best communication tool” to persuade people to take vaccines against COVID-19.

“Definitely, as spokesperson, I think the President is the best communication tool. So kung papayagan na po ng FDA (Food and Drug Administration), I think po mangunguna ang Presidente at ang-volunteer naman po siya. Gustong gusto na niya (If FDA gives its approval, I think the president will be first and he already previously volunteered. He really wants it),” he said.

Duterte on Dec. 1 signed Executive Order No. 121 allowing FDA Director General Eric Domingo to issue an emergency use authorization (EUA) for vaccines or treatments deemed safe and effective against COVID-19.

The order shortens the process of approving vaccines from the regular six months to 21 days.

“It is a priority of the State to ensure that the lives of the Filipino people, especially the underprivileged, poor, and marginalized, our frontliners, healthcare providers, police officers and soldiers, and those in the essential services shall be protected from COVID-19 by ensuing accessibility and adequacy of supply of related drugs and vaccines,” said Duterte in the order.

Priority

Around 24.7 million Filipinos would be prioritized in the country’s first vaccine rollout, said Roque.

The first priority are the 1.76 million health workers fighting on the front lines against the virus. These include those working in public and private facilities (612,975); other public health workers in rural, city and provincial health offices and contact tracers (609,982); barangay health workers (414,640) and other frontliners in national government agencies.

The second priority are the 3.79 million indigent senior workers, while the remaining 5.68 million senior citizens are the third priority.

“All senior citizens are prioritized because we know that grandfathers and grandmothers are included in the vulnerable group,” explained Roque.

The fourth priority are the 12.9 million remaining members of the indigent population, and the fifth are the 525,000 uniformed personnel from the Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine Coast Guard, Bureau of Fire Protection and Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit.

“We will order (vaccine doses) good for 30 million individuals or 60 million dosages,” Roque said.

As of this writing, there are a total of 441,399 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country, with 8,572 fatalities and 408,702 recoveries.

Ritchel Mendiola

Ritchel Mendiola is a staff writer and reporter for the Asian Journal. You can reach her at ritchel.mendiola@asianjournalinc.com.

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