Duterte OKs COVID-19 vaccination of general public, adolescents starting October

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 28) — President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the vaccination of the general public, including adolescents, against COVID-19 starting October, Malacañang confirmed on Tuesday.

“Ang good news po inaprubahan na po ni Presidente ang pagpapabakuna sa general population simula po ng buwan ng Oktubre,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque told a briefing.

[Translation: The good news is the President has already approved the vaccination of the general population starting October.]

With this development, Roque said that children can now be vaccinated against COVID-19. However, he did not specify the age range.

“Hinihikayat natin na magpa-masterlisting na po ang mga magulang ng mga kabataan para mapalistahan na sila pag nagsimula tayo,” he said.

[Translation: We are encouraging the parents to enlist their children in the masterlist so they will already have a slot once we started.]

Several local governments have already opened pre-registration for COVID-19 vaccination of adolescents aged 12 to 17 years old after regulatory approvals of emergency use of some vaccine brands for that age bracket.

Duterte on Monday said the government can use its police power to compel everyone to get vaccinated against COVID-19. He also warned government workers to get vaccinated or leave public service.

However, Roque clarified that there must be a law first to make vaccination mandatory.

“Well, kinakailangan muna ng batas […] Pero this is without prejudice to Congress passing a law. Kasi ang ating jurisprudence upholds the validity of laws requiring, as being mandatory, yung pagbabakuna," he said. 

[Translation: Well, there should be a law first […] But this is without prejudice to Congress passing a law. Because our jurisprudence upholds the validity of laws requiring, as being mandatory, the vaccination.]

The government has carried out the vaccination program based on priority sectors and subgroups identified by health experts. The vaccine rollout started with healthcare workers. Other priority groups include senior citizens, persons with comorbidities, frontline personnel in essential sectors and uniformed personnel, and indigent people.

Roque noted that current priority groups will not lose their place in line, adding that they will have a designated lane.

To date, 44.36 million vaccine doses have been administered. Over 20.58 million Filipinos are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, while more than 23.77 million have received their first dose, according to government data.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez, Jr. said Tuesday that the country is expected to receive five to seven million more doses of COVID-19 vaccine this week. He added that the government is targeting to administer 55 million doses, or 500,000 to 800,000 daily shots, next month.