MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday suggested the administration of COVID-19 vaccines in houses as some of the supplies near their expiry.
Presidential adviser for entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion had said about 27 million COVID-19 shots would expire by July. The Department of Health (DOH) over the weekend said they were still tabulating the total jabs nearing expiry.
"Just in case a good number of Filipinos remaining and refusing to get vaccinated, wala na tayong magawa. The most that we can do is last-minute program. We embark on a program that would, i-deliver natin yung vaccines sa bahay-bahay, sa bukid," Duterte said in a taped speech to the public.
"Kailangan magamit. Kung hindi magamit at mag-expire 'yan, itatapon talaga natin yan. Pero kung sabihin na sobra-sobra ang bakuna, eh di sobra-sobra," he added.
He told rebels to not attack health workers who would be engaged in the program, as they, too, are welcome to get COVID-19 jabs.
The government is currently conducting in-house vaccinations, as well as special vaccination days in areas with low COVID-19 vaccine coverage, to reach the target.
During Duterte's national address, Duque said authorities tried various ways to convince people to get their COVID-19 jabs, including bringing these to clinics, houses, and malls, but some sectors still refuse to be inoculated.
“We would welcome, Mr. President, if the Senate or Congress will — if they can muster that will, political will, to make vaccination and booster a mandatory like in other countries ‘no,” Duque told the President.
“Alam ko po this is going to be very controversial pero sana naman po ay intindihin nila na tayo po ay nag—bumili ng mga bakuna, tama po kayo, Mr. President, para maproteksiyunan ang publiko, ang atin pong mga kababayan," he added.
(I know this is going to be very controversial, but I hope they understand that we bought vaccines to protect the public, our compatriots.)
Duterte said it was all right if the government could not fully vaccinate 90 million by the end of June as targeted.
"Hindi tayo puwede magkulang (vaccines), hindi bale nang sobra... hindi na natin, it's beyond human comprehension kung you expect them na mabakunahan lahat," the President said.
More than 65 million people in the country are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, of whom some than 12 million have received their booster shots.
The National Task Force Against COVID-19 and the DOH said many COVID-19 jabs nearing expiry were donated by other governments, or bought by localities or the private sector.
"No one could guarantee for certain that manufacturers could deliver at the scale and schedule our people required; hence, decisions were made to secure as many doses as could be obtained from wherever they could be sourced," the joint statement read.
The DOH earlier said it will be a challenge to fully vaccinate the 90 million target by the end of June.
Malacañang last week vowed that the Philippines would achieve the "new normal," as well as the full vaccination of eligible individuals before the President steps down on June 30.