‘No problem’: Duterte respects people’s choice if they refuse COVID-19 vaccination

Published March 1, 2021, 10:45 AM

by Genalyn Kabiling

The country’s first shipment of coronavirus vaccines has arrived but the government is not about to force people to get vaccinated against the illness.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte

President Duterte has “no problem” if some people would refuse to take the jab against the new coronavirus disease, showing his respect for their choice related to their health. 

“For those who do not want to be vaccinated, okay lang sa akin. Wala akong problema. Ayaw ninyong magpabakuna?  (That’s okay with me. I have no problem with that. You don’t want to get vaccinated). Okay, that’s your choice,” Duterte said during a press conference Sunday, Feb. 28, after welcoming the arrival of Sinovac vaccines donated by China at the Manila airport.

Although he recognizes an individual’s freedom to decide about personal health, Duterte admitted that vaccine reluctance may the government’s goal to attain herd immunity against the illness. 

The government plans to vaccinate up to 70 million people this year in a bid to attain herd immunity.  Herd immunity occurs when a large part of the population becomes immune to an illness that eventually helps curb the spread of transition.

“We have to take into account the freedom of an individual of what happens to his body. Nobody but nobody can tinker with his — the human life kung hindi siya (except for him),” Duterte said.

“Kung ayaw niya (If he refuses), that makes it doubly hard for us. But that is also one which we have to take — we have to take into account in dealing with the problem of COVID-19,’ he said.

Duterte said the country could reach herd immunity by early 2022 but may face some difficulty due to its archipelagic state where people resident in islands.

Despite giving the government’s goal for herd immunity, the President said only the medical experts could give the exact timeline.

“Herd immunity is a science,” Duterte said.

“As a layman, herd immunity is achieved only kung ‘yong nakapalibot sa iyo nabakunahan na (only if the people around you have been vaccinated) so there is no more chance for you to acquire the disease because wala nang mag-contaminate sa iyo (because no one can contaminate you),” he said.

The President earlier said he is willing to get vaccinated but will wait for another vaccine brand as per the advice of his doctor. The Palace had said the president prefers to take the Sinopharm vaccine.