Palace says Duterte ready to take 1st COVID jab to boost public’s confidence

Published January 18, 2021, 12:03 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

President Duterte is prepared to take the first coronavirus shot if only to boost public confidence in the government’s immunization drive, Malacañang said Monday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the President would not hesitate to be first in line for the vaccination to help allay any concern about the safety and efficacy of the vaccines purchased by the government.

The government intends to give free vaccinations initially to medical frontliners, senior citizens, poor and vulnerable citizens, and uniformed personnel once the vaccines are approved for use by local drug regulators.

Of the millions of vaccine doses secured by the government, the first batch of the medicines will arrive in the country in February. A recent survey, however, showed that many Filipinos refuse to be vaccinated due to safety concerns.

“Kung sa tingin niya ay talagang natatakot ang mga tao sa bakuna, eh hindi naman po siya mag-a-atubili na mauna. Basta ang sa kanya, interes ng taumbayan bago interes ng mga namumuno (If he thinks the people are really afraid of the vaccines, the President will not hesitate to get vaccinated first.

He only considers the interest of the people before the leaders),” Roque said over “Unang Hirit” program on Monday. 

“Huwag po kayong mag-alala, kung importante po iyan talaga para magkaroon ng kumpiyansa ang taumbayan, iniisip ko naman po hindi imposible iyan dahil minsan na ngang sinabi po iyan ng ating Presidente (Do not worry. If it is important to enhance public confidence, I think it is not impossible because the President previously said he would volunteer),” he added.

He said that when the President recently offered to be among the last to be vaccinated, he merely tried to highlight that the poor and vulnerable sector will be the first to get inoculated against the coronavirus. 

“‘Yun ang konteksto sa sinabi ni Presidente na kapag mayroon pang natira matapos ibigay iyan sa mga mahihirap at dukha, siguro pupuwede ng magkaroon ng bakuna si Presidente at ang mga miyembro ng Gabinete (That’s the context of the President’s statement that if there will be vaccines left once the poor are inoculated, maybe, only then will the President and the Cabinet members get the shot),” he said.

In his public address last week, the President expressed willingness to be among the last in line for the immunization drive. He said he prefers to let the fronliners as well as the poor and vulnerable people receive the vaccines first for their protection against the coronavirus.

When Russia offered to supply COVID vaccines to the Philippines last year, Duterte readily volunteered to take the first vaccine shot as a gesture of trust and gratitude to Russia. He also offered to get vaccinated in public.