Vaccinate people in their sleep, Duterte says to fix hesitancy vs COVID-19 shots

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 12) — President Rodrigo Duterte suggested a way to reach those who remain hesitant to get a COVID-19 vaccine, which is not mandatory.

"Iyan ang problema, 'yung ayaw magpabakuna. Kaya hanapin ninyo 'yan sa barangay niyo, akyatin natin pag tulog, at turukin natin ang natutulog para makumpleto ang istorya," he said in a taped address that aired on Tuesday morning.

"Kung ayaw ‘di akyatin sa bahay. Tusukin natin sa gabi. Ako ang mag-ano. I will lead the journey," added Duterte, who is known for his deadpan jokes and controversial remarks.

[Translation: The problem is those who don't want to get vaccinated. Look for them in your village, let's go there while they're asleep and inject them while asleep so we can get it done. If they don't want, let's go in their houses and inject them when night falls. I'll do it, I'll lead the journey.]

The Department of Health has repeatedly stressed that vaccination is not mandatory. All vaccinations require informed consent.

Duterte, in the same speech, took the blame for the shortage of COVID-19 vaccines at the start of the year, saying he was helpless because the government cannot find any company that would sell to the Philippines.

The country formally started its COVID-19 vaccination drive last March 1, over a year since the first COVID-19 case was registered and the last to launch such initiative in Southeast Asia.

As of Oct. 10, over 23.1 million Filipinos have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 while some 26.4 million persons have received their first dose.