MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte will get COVID-19 shots in public to boost Filipinos' vaccine confidence, Malacañang said on Monday, contrary to earlier pronouncements.
“I think the President has said he will now have himself vaccinated publicly. He only has to announce when it will be done,” Palace spokesman Harry Roque told a news briefing.
“That’s, of course, in recognition of the fact na naghihintay ng senyales ang taong bayan kung talaga sila’y magpapabakuna o hindi. I think that is a policy that we will now pursue,” he added.
(That’s, of course, in recognition of the fact that the public is waiting for signal on whether or not they will get the vaccine.)
Roque, who said last month that Duterte would get COVID-19 shots in private, did not say which vaccine the President would get.
Duterte last year said he preferred vaccines from China or Russia, as he alleged that Western drug groups were profiting from the coronavirus pandemic.
The Philippines expects to get an initial 117,000 vaccine shots from Pfizer and a separate batch of 600,000 doses from China's Sinovac this month.
The 75-year-old Duterte, who has underlying health issues, belongs to groups vulnerable of developing severe symptoms of the respiratory disease.
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. But the interior department placed this figure lower, saying only 3 in 10 Metro Manila residents wanted to get the jabs.
Other officials like Metro Manila mayors are willing to get vaccines in public, said Roque.
“Ang aking ini-emphasize lang, ‘wag naman po kapag nauna ang mga namumuno, e sasabihing VIP,” he said.
“Gagawin lang po natin iyan dahil kinakailangan mapataas natin ang kumpiyansa ng ating mga kababayan na magpabakuna, hindi po dahil sila ay VIP.”
(I am only emphasizing that if officials go first, don't allege VIP treatment. We will only do that because we need to raise the confidence of our compatriots to get vaccinated, and not because officials are VIPs.)
Vice President Leni Robredo is also willing to get vaccinated in public, her office earlier said. Roque said he did not know if there would be a vaccine allocation for Robredo.
"I leave that to the DOH because the President has said okay, if you want me to and there's public clamor, he will. I do not know also if there is a public clamor for the Vice President," said Roque.
The Palace spokesman said he had health comorbities, which make him "entitled to some priority."
"Let's see if the VP will fall under any of the priorities," he said.