MANILA - A lawmaker on Tuesday urged government to allow the general public to get inoculated as vaccine hesitancy remains high among members of priority groups.
The Philippines is set to receive 21 million COVID-19 vaccines next month which would be "more than enough" to inoculate 8 million Metro Manila residents who are willing to get the jab, according to Senator Sherwin Gatchalian.
The senator cited a recent Social Weather Stations survey that found only 32 percent of the capital region's 26 million population were willing to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
"The rest of the public want to get their vaccines already. We have to start with the willing because they’re rearing to go," he told ANC's Headstart.
Some local governments are set to open COVID-19 vaccinations to essential workers (A4) and indigents (A5) next month.
Gatchalian also welcomed proposals to allocate vaccine brands to certain groups such as Pfizer for students, AstraZeneca for the elderly, and Sinovac for military and police.
"I still believe that we allow first the adults because the adults are susceptible and when we vaccinate them they can go back to work. Then after the adults we can now go into the teenagers," he said.
Asked about the resumption of face-to-face classes, he said: "We are seeing surges around the country so my analysis here is let the school year end. Hopefully, come August, September we’ll have a better situation, we'll have more vaccinated."
The senator, however, said withholding available vaccine brands to the public may add to their hesitancy to get inoculated. Vaccine hesitancy remains prevalent among senior citizens and even essential workers, he said.
"For me the most important thing is to allay the fears. The number 1 fear it might cause injury to themselves. Fear of the unknown is the problem," he said.
"My simple strategy for that is for the leaders to come out and promote vaccination. Our President, Vice President, Senate President, even Speaker of the House, and even media personalities."
The Philippines aims to inoculate up to 70 million of its population by yearend to achieve herd immunity, vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez said.
Government needs to conduct 500,000 daily inoculations in Metro Manila and 8 other economic hubs to achieve its target by November, he said.
The country has administered 4,097,425 COVID-19 vaccine doses as of Saturday. Some 949,939 Filipinos have been fully vaccinated while 3,147,486 have received their first dose.