Duterte to counter vaccine hesitancy by appearing in public service ad

Published May 19, 2021, 4:04 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

The government’s communication team is stepping up the information drive to combat hesitancy about the safety of the coronavirus vaccines.

President Rodrigo Duterte (File photo/Malacañang)

President Duterte will be in the forefront of the latest messaging campaign as he is expected to appear in public service advertisement to convince people to get vaccinated.

According to Presidential spokesman Harry Roque, his office is preparing to produce the new infomercial seeking to boost public confidence in the coronavirus vaccines. The planned ad campaign came after studies showed many Filipinos were still reluctant to receive the vaccine over alleged safety concerns.

“Iyong mga pag-aaral po nagpapakita na mayroon pong tinatawag na vaccine hesitancy na 30 percent lang daw po ang gustong magpabakuna. So ito po ay isang matinding paghamon sa ating communication effort at nagpa-plano po kami muli ng another infomercial (The studies showed there is vaccine hesitancy where only 30 percent want to get vaccinated. This is a severe challenge to our communication effort and we’re planning to make another infomercial),” Roque said during a meeting with the President ad other Cabinet members Monday, May 17.

Roque’s office intends set aside funds for the planned creation of the informercial on vaccine confidence. The Palace official did not specify the budget for the production of it second public service ad.

The first infomercial promoting health protocols to fight coronavirus was also initiated by Roque’s office. The commercial, done apparently with the help of a private advertising firm, is aired on government television before Roque starts his virtual Palace briefing.

“Yung ating paggawa ng commercial ay tinulungan din po tayo ng pribadong sector. Pero mayroon pa po tayong pondo na dinaan natin para doon sa unang commercial na ‘yon (The private sector helped up with the production of the commercial. But we still have funds left from the first commercial),” Roque said.

“Sisiguraduhin na po natin ngayon magagamit natin for vaccine at gagawa nga po tayo ng bagong infomercial. Siguro po kaya naging number one ‘yong “Mask, Hugas, Iwas” because kasama kayo doon sa infomercial at siguro po sigurado na sasama po muli kayo doon sa infomercial (We will make sure it will be used for vaccines and we will produce a new infomercial. Maybe the ‘Mask, Hugas, Iwas’ was number one because you were part of the infomercial and maybe, you will join again the new informercial),” he told the President.

No vaccine, no ayuda?

Apart from the campaign ad, Roque made another suggestion on how to boost the country’s vaccination drive during the meeting with the President and other officials.

He said vaccination could be used as condition in the distribution of the cash aid to the beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps). More people especially the poor will likely get inoculated against the coronavirus under this proposed setup, he said.

Roque also proposed that making vaccination a condition to other future assistance programs for the people could also boost the inoculation efforts. In case of a Bayanihan 3 aid package, he said more beneficiaries can be vaccinated.

“Ito naman po ay boluntaryo pa rin (This still voluntary),” he said.

“Hindi natin sila pinipilit kumbaga magiging kondisyon kung gusto nilang makatanggap po ng ayuda (We are not forcing them. It will be a condition if they want to receive aid),” he added.

There was no word yet if the President has approved the proposal to link vaccination with the distribution of cash aid to the people.

More than 3 million doses of coronavirus vaccines have been administered mostly to health workers, senior citizens, and people with comorbidity since the inoculation drive started last March. Essential workers and the indigent population will be next in the vaccination line. The government is targeting to inoculate 58 million Filipinos to reach herd immunity before the end of the year.