Public vaccination for President will help ease doubts of many

Published February 23, 2021, 12:48 AM

by Manila Bulletin

President Duterte has agreed to boost the confidence of the people in the efficacy of authorized vaccines to provide immunity and protection against COVID-19 by having himself vaccinated in public, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Monday.

The President had earlier said the first available vaccines should go to the country’s frontliners in the pandemic – doctors, nurses, and other hospital personnel, the police and military men enforcing the lockdowns to ban mass gatherings that lead to increased COVID-19 cases, and other government personnel who have to meet with people in carrying out the processes of government.

All the while, leaders of many nations were having themselves publicly inoculated to inspire confidence in vaccines at a time of so much fear and suspicion – President Joseph Biden of the United States, Pope Francis and former Pope Benedict XIV of Vatican City, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip of the United Kingdom, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum of the United Arab Emirates, President Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, President Wavel Ramkalawan of Seychelles, President Joko Widodo of Indonesia, and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore.

At one time, President Duterte said he would have himself inoculated but not in public, as it would not be in the arm but in the buttocks. This only served to stoke public doubt and concern. Why not in public, like all the other national leaders of the world?

An opinion survey conducted by Pulse Asia early in January in the Philippines showed that almost one half – 47 percent of those surveyed – said they would not get vaccinated against COVID-19. About 84 percent said they were concerned about the safety of the vaccines. With the President himself at that time unwilling to take any vaccine in public, the people could not be blamed for having their own doubts.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque must have had this in mind when he announced last Monday that the President had agreed to get vaccinated in public so as to help ease public apprehensions. It would also help if, along with the President, many other public officials will get vaccinated the same day. Some Metro Manila mayors have said they will volunteer to be among the first in line for the vaccines, to help boost the people’s confidence.

We hope the vaccines will come soon. We have spent days preparing for their arrival to ensure that they are quickly transported from the airport to the hospitals and other vaccination centers. The President has made known his preference for either the Chinese or Russian vaccines, but they have not yet been given Emergency Use Authorization by our government.

This is another matter that must be quickly resolved – the approval of any vaccine by our government. We have been preparing all week for the transporting of the vaccines and conducted simulation vaccination sessions. It would be ironic if the vaccines finally get here, but they can’t be immediately used for lack of the proper government approval and permit.