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Duterte changes mind, to take COVID-19 vaccine in public —Palace

President Rodrigo Duterte has decided to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in public to encourage Filipinos to take the vaccine, Malacañang said Monday.

No date has been set for the vaccination although the President is part of the priority population because he is a senior citizen, his spokesperson Harry Roque told a news conference.

“He only has to announce when it will be done and that’s of course in recognition of the fact na nag-aantay ng senyales ang taumbayan kung talaga sila’y magpapabakuna o hindi,” Roque said.

“Ninanais po ng Presidente na lahat ng Pilipino ay magkaroon ng kumpyansa na magpabukana dahil ang bakuna po ang solusyon dito sa pandemiya ng COVID-19.”

Roque said last month that Duterte wanted to be vaccinated in private.

Weeks later, Duterte’s close confidante, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, issued a statement that the 75-year-old President is now willing to take the vaccine publicly as long as there is clearance from his doctors.

US President Joe Biden, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, and Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are among the world leaders whose vaccinations were made in public.

The Philippines aims to vaccinate up to 70 million Filipinos this year with the rollout expected to begin this month. Frontline health workers will be the first to receive the vaccines, according to the government.

A Pulse Asia survey in January said a near majority of Filipino adults are "not inclined" to get the COVID-19 vaccine, with safety concerns being the top reason.

While 95% of Filipinos said they are aware vaccines are being developed, 47% said they would not get vaccinated. Only 32% expressed willingness and the remaining 21% said they were ambivalent, according to Pulse Asia.

Eighty-four percent of those who said they would not get vaccinated cited safety concerns as the reason for their unwillingness.  —KBK, GMA News