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Duterte to health workers who don’t want Sinovac: ‘Wait for a few days’

President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday night said health workers who do not want to get Sinovac’s COVID-19 vaccine should wait for a few days to get inoculated.

“Mayroong dadating. They have a choice. It’s either AstraZeneca or the Sinovac. Kung ayaw nila ng Sinovac, maghintay sila in a few days. Basta I was assured it will be coming within the next few days,” Duterte said in a press conference.

“For those who do not want to be vaccinated, okay lang sa akin. Wala akong problema. Ayaw ninyo magpabakuna, okay, that’s your choice,” he added.

Earlier, Philippine General Hospital doctors said Sinovac’s COVID-19 vaccine should undergo further appraisal before being administered to healthcare workers.

According to the PGH Physicians Association, the appraisal should be done by the Health Technology Assessment Council, an advisory body to the Health Department and PhilHealth, to facilitate informed decision-making.

Although the Chinese vaccine was granted emergency use authorization by the Philippine Food and Drug Administration, it was not recommended for healthcare workers due to its lower efficacy rate of 50.4 percent for the group.

Despite this, the Department of Health said the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group agreed to recommend Sinovac’s COVID-19 vaccine for health workers.

The DOH also clarified that health workers will not lose their priority status in the COVID-19 vaccination program even if they refuse the vaccine developed by Sinovac.

Meanwhile, vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr. and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the scheduled arrival of 525,600 AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines via the COVAX facility on March 1 will be delayed for a week.

Duterte earlier urged Filipinos  to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as the Philippines welcomed its first shipment of vaccines from China’s Sinovac.

A poll by the OCTA Research group found that only two out of 10 Filipinos are willing to get a COVID-19 vaccine, mostly due to safety concerns.

Fifty-eight percent of the survey respondents also expressed total distrust of Chinese vaccines.

The DOH has repeatedly stated that the vaccines approved for emergency use have undergone a thorough review by experts. — BM, GMA News