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Roque won't get Sinovac jab for now, says proposal to prioritize 'influencers' like him rejected

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. on Tuesday said  he won’t be getting inoculated with the Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine for the meantime, adding that a proposal for "influencers" like him to get priority vaccinations was thumbed down.

Roque noted that while he wants to get the Sinovac vaccine, he won't be able to since it will go against the recommendation of the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NITAG) for health workers and those employees in health facilities to be inoculated first.

“Gusto ko po talaga magpabakuna, kaso hindi po pumayag ang NITAG. Kahapon po, sa PGH, naghanda na nga po ako,” Roque said, referring to the starting date of the government’s COVID-19 vaccination program held at the Philippine General Hospital in Manila.

“Sabi ng NITAG, ang magpapaturok muna [dapat] ay medical frontliners. Hindi na ako nakipagtalo. Susunod po  ako diyan para wala ng away. Kapag pupuwede na po, kami po ni Dr. Lulu Bravo, mukhang sasabay na ako sa kanila,” Roque added.

Bravo, who is 71 years old, is a vaccine expert from the UP-PGH and UP College of Medicine.

Only the 600,000 doses of Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine donated by the Chinese government, which arrived in the Philippine on Sunday afternoon, are the ones currently available for use in the Philippines.

Likewise, the Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA) only recommended Sinovac for those clinically healthy individuals aged 18 to 59 years old. Moreover, the FDA did not recommend Sinovac on health workers since its efficacy rate on this group only reached 50.4%.

Roque then revealed that the government initially asked NITAG to reserve Sinovac jabs for at least 50 influencers—including President Rodrigo Duterte and himself—so these people can get a COVID-19 vaccine to boost the public’s confidence.

This proposal, however, was rejected by NITAG according to Roque with some exceptions.

“Ang nabakunahan po ay si vaccine czar Carlito Galvez, Deputy Chief Implementer [of the National Task Force] Vince Dizon saka si MMDA Chairman Benhur Abalos kasi sabi ni Presidente dapat sila ang mabakunahan muna because we should walk the talk,” Roque said.

Pressed on the names of the 50 influencers, Roque said they did not submit the names but the list included movie stars, public officials, and even journalists. -MDM, GMA News