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APPALLED by nasty remarks, President Rodrigo Duterte is seriously reconsidering the idea of taking the first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said this may be an effort to build up public confidence over the national government’s mass vaccination against the highly-infectious coronavirus strain from Wuhan, China.

“Kung sa tingin niya (President Duterte) ay natatakot ang mga tao sa bakuna ay hindi naman po siya mag-aatubili na mauna,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said.

He, however, clarified that the President has not made a final decision on the matter.

At the regular press briefing, when asked by Palace reporters whether the president would entertain the idea of going public, Roque replied:

“Antayin na lang po natin kung ano talaga ang magiging personal na desisyon ng Presidente. If he wants it public, well, seeing the President being vaccinated is proof of the pudding,” the Palace spokesperson averred, in response to Vice President Leni Robredo’s statement that the President should be among the first to receive a COVID-19 vaccine shot to boost the public’s confidence in vaccinations.

Robredo earlier assailed Duterte, who hinted on being the last to take the vaccine, citing the need to prioritize medical frontliners and the vulnerable sectors.

“Basta ang sa kaniya, interes ng taumbayan bago ang interes ng mga nakaupo,” Roque said in explaining Duterte’s decision to be among the last to take the vaccine, for which the President has been criticized for backing out of his first statement which hinted the Malacañang chief executive to be the first to take the shots if only to prove how safe the vaccines are.  

“Pero kung imporante po yan (una sa bakuna) talaga para magkaroon ng kumpiyansa ang taumbayan, iniisip ko naman po hindi imposible yan dahil minsan na rin ‘yang sinabi ng Presidente,” he said.

The Philippines is expecting its first COVID-19 vaccine supply by February.

A recent non-commissioned survey by OCTA Research showed only one out of four Metro Manila respondents are willing to get themselves vaccinated against COVID-19. The survey was conducted from December 9 to 13, 2020.

As this developed, the Department of Health (DOH) hinted on conducting a “house-to-house” vaccination for vulnerable and high-risk senior citizens targeted to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

During the House Committee on Health inquiry into the government’s COVID-19 vaccination program, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said a “house-to-house” vaccination is possible.

Duque pointed out, however, that this plan is “more of an exception rather than the rule,” since the original objective is for individuals to go to designated vaccination sites to receive the vaccines.

Duque earlier said the government identified 4,512 fixed COVID-19 vaccination points across the country. He explained that the model will be similar to election poll sites and that existing medical centers and rural health facilities will be utilized.

Each site will have three vaccination teams. Each team will aim to administer the vaccine to 100 people per day.

Those to be vaccinated will have to register, receive pre-vaccination education and counseling, and undergo screening and medical history review before being inoculated.

Afterward, they will get an immunization card and be subject to post-vaccination monitoring and surveillance.

Vaccine czar Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr. earlier said the vaccine manufactured by Pfizer could be the first that will be used against COVID-19 in the country, as the COVAX Facility will have an early rollout of the brand.

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