Duque appeals to Acosta to get anti-COVID shot


Posted at Jan 20 2022 02:39 PM

DOJ Sec. also tells PAO chief to follow onsite work rules

MANILA — Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Thursday appealed to Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) chief Persida Acosta to get her vaccine against COVID-19, saying she needs protection from the coronavirus. 

“Ako ay nananawagan kay PAO chief (Persida) Acosta dahil palagay ko, baka malapit na rin siyang maging senior citizen, eh dapat mabigyan siya ng karagdagang proteksyon sa pamamagitan ng bakuna,” Duque said after an event where COVID-19 vaccines were made available in drug stores. 

(I am appealing to PAO chief Acosta, because I think she is about to become a senior citizen, that she should be given additional protection from COVID-19 through vaccination.)

Acosta has publicly admitted in a television interview that she chose not to get vaccinated against COVID-19 due to age and various health reasons. 

She said she is waiting for a protein-based vaccine. 

Currently, the available COVID-19 vaccines in the Philippines are mRNA or RNA (ribonucleic acid)-based such as Moderna and Pfizer's, inactivated (Sinovac, Sinopharm), and adenovirus or viral vector-based (Janssen, AstraZeneca, Sputnik V). 

Novavax, which is unavailable yet in the country, is a protein-based vaccine. In late December, the vaccine was authorized for use by European Union regulators and the World Health Organization. 

Duque said that without a vaccine, Acosta may be in danger if she contracts COVID-19 .

“Ayaw naman na malagay siya sa isang napakapeligrosong katayuan, lalo na kapag ito’y severe to critical COVID infection na alam natin nabibiktima rito ang mga senior citizens at mga taong… gaya ng sinabi niya meron daw siyang ibang mga sakit. So mas lalo na dapat magpabakuna siya bunsod ng kaniyang comorbidities,” said Duque.

(We do not want her to be in danger, most especially if it becomes a severe to critical COVID-19 infection because we know that most senior citizens experience this... and as she mentioned earlier, she has comorbidities. So, all the more she needs to be vaccinated.)

Secretary Menardo Guevarra of the Department of Justice, under which is the PAO, said he advised Acosta to comply with existing government rules regarding onsite work for unvaccinated personnel.

He said he advised her as well "to ensure a COVID-safe working environment in her agency without sacrificing efficiency."

Personnel reporting for onsite work should be vaccinated. Those who have yet get their jab must at least undergo RT-PCR or antigen testing once every two weeks if they work onsite, said Guevarra, citing IATF rules.

Senator Franklin Drilon, a former Justice Secretary, said Acosta should be barred from physically reporting to work because of her current vaccination status.

The Philippines has so far fully vaccinated 56 million individuals, while 59.2 million others have received an initial dose, according to Department of Health data. Some 5.3 million booster shots have also been administered, as of Tuesday.

— with report from Jorge Carino, ABS-CBN News


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