MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the proposal to start in October the vaccination of general adult population and minors against COVID-19, Malacañang said Tuesday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the president green lighted the proposal as more vaccine supplies are expected to arrive in the country.
“Magsisimula na po ang pagbabakuna sa general population itong buwan ng Oktubre. Ito po ay inaprubahan na ng pangulo sang-ayon po sa advice ni vaccine czar Carlito Galvez,” Roque said in a Palace briefing.
Galvez earlier recommended the opening of the inoculation to more Filipinos with the expected delivery of 100 million COVID-19 vaccine shots in September and October.
The vaccine czar also proposed the vaccination of the pediatric population, particularly those aged 12 to 17 and those with co-morbidities, which, according to Roque, has also been approved by the president.
The current immunization program covers five priority groups – healthcare workers, senior citizens, people with co-morbidities, essential workers and indigents.
Roque assured that these groups will remain as vaccination priorities and will have express lanes at jab sites when the inoculation for the general population and minors begin.
The government will release the guidelines for this system, he said.
Meanwhile, Roque urged parents and guardians to have their children registered for COVID-19 vaccination.
“Meron po tayong sapat na supply. Ang pinaghahandaan natin yung master listing pa lang naman. Pag meron na po tayong masterlist, hintayin po natin kung sinong mauuna,” he said.
Aside from vaccinating the general population, Duterte also hinted on Monday night the possibility of requiring vaccination for government personnel.
“Sa gobyerno, ayaw mo magpabakuna, umalis ka. Go out of government. Why? Because when you are with the government, you face people. People transact business officials, well, audiences or visits,” he said.
The president threatened to use the police power of the state to compel people to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
“Under the police power of the state, everybody can be compelled to be vaccinated not because we don’t believe in your theory or belief or religion but because you are a carrier and a danger to society,” Duterte said.
The president also said that as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage the nation, it may take two or three years for Filipino lives to return to normalcy.
But this could be shortened if the country achieves herd immunity by vaccinating majority of its population.
“We would not be able to return to the old norm, mga ano pa siguro 2 to 3 years pero mga tao nandiyan ang bakuna, magpabakuna na kaagad. Ma-minimize yan, and we can achieve herd immunity which is a long shot but we can attain it with the help of people and god help us, we can have steady supply of vaccines,” he said. RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)