MANILA — It's final: President Rodrigo Duterte will get vaccinated against COVID-19 in private, Malacañang said on Tuesday, despite calls for the chief executive to get the jabs in public to boost the Filipino's confidence in the drug.
Duterte "is taking the route" of the Britain's Queen Elizabeth and her husband to take the COVID-19 shots in private, his spokesman Harry Roque earlier said.
Asked if this is already final, Roque said, "I think so. He has said so."
"Sabi nga niya dahil sa puwet siya magpapasaksak, hindi pupuwedeng public," he told reporters in an online briefing.
(He said he would get the vaccine shots on his buttocks, so it cannot be in public.)
Roque earlier denied that Duterte refused to get the jabs in public because he has supposedly received them in secret with his security team last year.
The 75-year-old Duterte, who has underlying health issues, belongs to the groups vulnerable of developing severe symptoms of the respiratory disease.
Photos from the vaccination drives of other countries showed that people typically received the jabs on their upper arm.
Other world leaders like US President Joe Biden, Indonesian Pres. Joko Widodo, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong got vaccinated in public.
Duterte is "extremely popular," said public health expert Dr. Tony Leachon, a former adviser of a government task force against COVID-19.
"If he would be able to show to the public his inoculation with whatever vaccine he chooses, I'm certain vaccine hesitancy rate will go up," Leachon told ABS-CBN News.
"Sobrang popular ni Pangulo, so makakatulong sana to boost ‘yung confidence ng ating mga kababayan kung makita siya [magpabakuna]," Vice President Leni Robredo earlier said.
(The President is very popular, so it will help boost the confidence of our compatriots if they see him being vaccinated.)
Nearly half or 47 percent of Filipinos said late last year they would not get themselves vaccinated against COVID-19, according to a Pulse Asia survey.
A separate OCTA research group poll found that only a fourth of Metro Manila residents were willing get the anti-coronavirus shots.
Vaccine hesitancy may come from the "extraordinary speed" at which the shots were developed or from false claims that immunizations might be used to harm or control people, said Leachon.
"The next big challenge is to convince the public to get vaccinated once doses become available," he said.