MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday appealed to the public to "find time" and "go back" for their second COVID-19 vaccine dose, as the Philippines missed its inoculation targets and continues to battle one of Asia's longest-running outbreaks.
The health department last week said about 113,000 people have yet to get their second jabs.
Protection from 2-shot vaccines "is not complete" without the second dose, Duterte said in a taped speech.
"Please find time, go back and line there, line up and show your card so that they would know you are receiving the second dose," the President said.
"Kindly follow instruction. Hindi naman mahirap ‘yan (that is not difficult), you find time at your convenience," he added.
Duterte tasked local governments and the interior department to find out why people miss their second shot. He said officials should take steps to address this.
John Wong, a data analyst on the government's coronavirus task force, said last week that in the 3 months since early inoculations started, just 14 percent of senior citizens and 8 percent of people with health conditions have received first doses of a vaccine, short of the 21 percent target.
Wong attributed the slow rollout to limited vaccine supplies, vaccine hesitancy, and accessibility problems.
"Some people want the vaccine but cannot access it. We need to address access issues," Wong said.
Wong said only half of the 2.1 million people eligible for a second dose had come back to receive it.
But Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire explained that this was based on assumptions.
"On the ground, the actual numbers would be 113,000 na hindi pa naka-receive ng 2nd dose," she said.
(On the ground the actual numbers of those who have yet to receive the second dose would be 113,000.)
Government expects a steadier flow of COVID-19 shots from this month onwards, vaccine "czar" Carlito Galvez Jr said.
The Philippines has the second highest tally COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia, with some 1.276 million infections and nearly 22,000 deaths.
— With a report from Reuters