MANILA (UPDATE) - Vice President Leni Robredo said Sunday she is willing to appear in a vaccine infomercial alongside President Rodrigo Duterte as she sought an information campaign on COVID-19 jabs instead of withholding the announcement of available vaccines to the public.
"Kung kinakailangan kaming dalawa ni Pangulo, ako any time. Sa tingin ko talaga, dapat pinagtutulungan natin kung papaano lumakas ang tiwala ng tao sa pagpapabakuna," she said in her weekly radio show.
(If it needs to be the two of us, I'm available any time. I think we really need to cooperate on how to boost the trust of the public in vaccination.)
Sen. Joel Villanueva suggested last week that Robredo and Duterte work together on a public service announcement to encourage the public to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Robredo said that in February, her office already released a sort of "Vaccine Q&A" informercial to promote awareness.
The Vice President received last week her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca, while Duterte was inoculated on May 3 with the vaccine candidate of Sinopharm.
The COVID-19 vaccine of AstraZeneca is among 7 products approved for emergency use in the Philippines, and among 4 brands already shipped to the country. The Sinopharm product, meanwhile, was only allowed for compassionate use by the Presidential Security Group.
Robredo, meanwhile, described as "fake news" claims that she opposed Chinese vaccines after Malacañang asked her to clarify her stand on said jabs.
Duterte earlier lashed out at Robredo following her support for the call of some health care workers for a review of Sinovac's COVID-19 vaccine by the Health Technology Assessment Council (HTAC).
"Hindi ko sinasabi na masama ang Sinovac. Ang sinasabi ko lang, mag-go through naman sana sa proseso para siguradong protected tayo. Kung ano yung ni-require natin from Pfizer and Astra(Zeneca), ganun din sana sa Sinovac kahit pa donated ito," she said.
(I did not say Sinovac was bad. I said it should go through the process so that we're protected. Whatever we required of Pfizer and AstraZeneca should be the same, even if Sinovac doses were donated.)
The Vice President also expressed concern that some might not register for vaccination if local governments would not announce the COVID-19 vaccines that the public may receive.
"Ang solusyon, hindi itatago mo ang brand. Maghanap ng paraan na makatulong na lumakas ang confidence ng tao sa bakuna," she said.
(The solution is not to withhold the brand, but to find a way to boost the public's trust in vaccines.)
"Ang takot ko talaga, 'yung lalo tuloy hindi maengganyong 'di magpa-register kapag tsambahan."
(My fear is that the public won't register if they leave it to chance.)
The turnout for COVID-19 vaccination remains "high" even as the government ordered the non-disclosure of vaccine brands until arrival at inoculation sites, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said Saturday amid concerns that the move would increase vaccine hesitancy.
The country aims to inoculate up to 70 million of its population by the end of the year to achieve herd immunity. As of May 15, some 3.2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered.