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VP Robredo to get COVID-19 vaccine in public, says spox

Vice President Leni Robredo will be getting COVID-19 vaccine in public to boost the public’s vaccine confidence, her camp said Wednesday.

Robredo’s spokesperson, Ibarra Gutierrez, issued the statement in response to Senator Bong Go’s challenge that the Vice President get the COVID-19 vaccine with President Rodrigo Duterte.

“As early as the first week of December, Vice President Leni already declared her willingness to receive the vaccine in public to encourage all Filipinos to get vaccinated,” Gutierrez said.

“In her view, the government should have two priorities on this issue: ensuring the availability of a safe, effective, and affordable vaccine, and ensuring that as many Filipinos as possible receive it. She is more than ready to do her part in attaining these goals,” Gutierrez added.

Duterte earlier said that he is willing to get the COVID-19 vaccine first to enjoin the public to do the same, but he has since said that he would take it last to give way to health workers, elderly and the poor.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, Jr. then said that the President will get the COVID-19 vaccine in private like England’s Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh—members of the Royal Family.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire earlier said that intensified information drive on benefits of getting a COVID-19 vaccine can increase vaccine confidence from an existing 60% to as much as 85%.

Only Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine has secured an emergency use authorization (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration so far.

In granting EUA, the FDA said that Pfizer-BioNTech has been found 95% and 92% effective on study population and among all races, respectively—a requirement before a vaccine can be administered in the country.

Back in November 2018, vaccine confidence in the country nosedived from 92% to 33% after officials of Sanofi Pasteur—manufacturer of anti-dengue vaccine dengvaxia—announced that their vaccine posed a risk to those who were not infected by dengue prior to being injected with the vaccine.

The announcement, however, only came after the vaccine has already been administered to over 700,000 children and even policemen.

There were at least 100 individuals who died after receiving the dengvaxia vaccine, but health officials have ruled that their deaths cannot be directly linked to the vaccine.

Without admitting any wrongdoing, Sanofi returned P1.16 billion to the Department of Health for the unused doses of vaccine. — RSJ, GMA News