Philippines eyes vaccinating all adults before elections

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 19 2022 01:33 PM

Participants wait for her turn to vote at the COMELEC’s mock elections at the Padre Zamora Elementary School in Pasay City on Dec. 29, 2021. The COMELEC in Pasay allotted 786 participants for the activity in preparation for next year’s elections. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News
Participants wait for her turn to vote at the COMELEC’s mock elections at the Padre Zamora Elementary School in Pasay City on Dec. 29, 2021. The COMELEC in Pasay allotted 786 participants for the activity in preparation for next year’s elections. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — The Philippines eyes vaccinating its adult population before the May 2022 presidential election, which some fear could become a superspreader event, Malacañang said on Wednesday. 

"Dapat makapag-77 million fully vaxxed na tayo by end of first quarter of 2022. That's months before the May elections," Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said in a One News interview. 

He said the figure includes all Filipinos above 18 years old. 

"Bago pa man sumapit ang April or even May, gusto natin na iyong adult population natin ay lahat po ay fully vaccinated, fully vaccinated na. Sa ganoong paraan, dagdag proteksiyon para sa mga botante ‘no," he said in a press briefing on Tuesday. 

(Before April or even May, we our entire adult population to be fully vaccinated. That way, voters are more protected.) 

The Philippines, which is battling one of Asia's worst coronavirus outbreaks, will hold an election in May for thousands of positions, from president down to lawmakers, mayors and governors.

Roughly 67.5 million Filipinos, including 1.7 million overseas, are registered to vote in the elections, which historically have a high turnout.

"We need to push the virus cases down in April so when we have elections in May, people will be safe," Dr. Teodoro Herbosa, medical adviser to the COVID-19 task force, told Reuters.

"(It is) very important that we are able to tame this virus before May 9."

Herbosa recommends the election commission expand the use of absentee balloting to include the elderly and people with health conditions.

Plans to extend the voting period to 2 days were shelved due to budget constraints.

The 2016 election saw a record voter turnout with 82 percent, with about 44.5 million people casting ballots, government data showed.

Daily coronavirus infections hit records several times this month, driven by the highly contagious Omicron variant, prompting a tightening of mobility curbs. On Monday, the Philippines started a ban on unvaccinated people from public transport.

The country has recorded more than 3.7 million cases and nearly 53,000 deaths overall.

It has so far fully inoculated about half of its population, but many areas outside the capital region are lagging behind. 

— With a report from Reuters

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