No Filipino will be left out in the government’s vaccination program against the coronavirus disease, President Duterte assured the nation Tuesday as the country’s cases of infections fueled by the Delta variant continued to soar.
The government however will give priority vaccine access to the “hotspots” or areas with high coronavirus transmission given the country’s limited supply at present, according to the President.
Duterte, who believed vaccination was the best defense against virus spread, admitted the country’s vaccine supply was still insufficient to inoculate all Filipinos right away.
“Let me just assure everybody, anywhere in the Philippines, that the vaccines that we are giving is for all Filipinos,” the President said during a televised address Monday.
“It’s just a matter of priority ka dito sa iyong mga hotspots kagaya ng mga Maynila and the environs. Nandito lahat ‘yung ano eh — iyong tao so ‘yung transmission mas mabilis. Pero kung sabihin mo na mabigyan sila, mabigyan sila. We commit (It’s just a matter of priority to the hotspots like Manila and the environs where they are many people so the transmission is faster. But if you ask if they will be given vaccines, they will get them. We commit),” he added.
The President voiced confidence in vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. to implement the smooth vaccine distribution to the communities initially those hit hard by the outbreak. He commended Galvez, a former military chief, as a “very astute administrator.”
But the President said the county was still facing a vaccine shortage given the tight world supply. If only country had adequate vaccines, the government would ensure the swift vaccination of all Filipinos immediately, he added.
“Ang problema talaga ng Pilipinas ay wala tayong supply na maganda kasi kung mayroon, maibigay na natin sa lahat (The problem of the Philippines is we don’t have a good supply because if we did, we would give them to everyone). If we have numbers in sufficient vaccines, hindi na sila maghintay. Ibigay na natin kaagad (they would not have to wait. We would have given them immediately),” he said.
“Pero gusto namin pagdating ibigay na kaagad. Uunahin lang natin ‘yung mainit na lugar na maraming tao (But we want to distribute the vaccines immediately upon arrival. We will just prioritize those hotspots with a lot of people). More persons, more transmission; less a crowd, less transmission,” he added.
Several local government units have requested for additional COVID-19 vaccines from the national government to help curb the rising cases of infections in their areas. The President, in a public address last week, said he heard such “desperate” appeals from local officials and asked Galvez to address the situation.
In his “Talk to the People” Monday, Duterte admitted that he talked to some local executives and reassured them the government was not neglecting them. He said the government has the funds for vaccine purchase and will distribute them to “all local government units” once available.
“I was able to talk to them yesterday and sinabi ko sa kanila (I told them) na it’s not a matter of this national government forgetting you. We are always conscious of our duty to protect all Filipinos but then it’s not — it’s not a way of saying to protect that we give all because we cannot have the vaccines,” he said.
The country so far received 34.2 million doses of coronavirus vaccines, mostly Sinovac, AstraZeneca, and Pfizer jabs. Of the 20 million jabs administered, 9.1 million Filipinos have already been fully vaccinated.
The government’s goal is to vaccinate 50 to 70 million Filipinos to reach herd immunity before the end of the year or by early 2022.