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Duterte approves vaccination of general population, minors vs. COVID-19

President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the vaccination of general population, as well as minors, against COVID-19 starting October, Malacañang announced on Tuesday.

In his regular press briefing, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said this is due to the large number of vaccine doses that have recently arrived and are expected to arrive in the coming weeks.

"Äng good news, inaprubahan na ni Presidente ang pagbabakuna ng general population simula po sa buwan ng Oktubre [The good news is that the President has approved the vaccination of general population starting October]," Roque said.

Later in the briefing, Roque said Duterte also approved the vaccination of minors against COVID-19 and urged parents to have them listed already.

"Ating hinihikayat ngayon ay magpa-masterlisting na po ang mga magulang ng mga kabataan para mapalista na yung mga kabataan pag nagsimula na po tayo [We urge parents to have their children listen already]," he said.

"Inaasahan natin na magsisimula rin tayo sa buwan ng Oktubre, aprubado na rin po iyan ng ating Presidente [We expect to start in October, that has been approved by the President]."

Roque said this is based on the recommendation of National Task Force Against COVID-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr.

"Vaccine is your best defense for yourself and your community," Roque said.

The Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given an  emergency use authorization to Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for use on those aged 12 to 17 years old.

Sinovac has also asked the FDA for approval to use its vaccines on children and adolescents.

Galvez earlier said over 61 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine will arive in September and October.

On September 6, all local government units have been ordered to vaccinate priority sectors A1 to A5. Those under the A1 priority category are workers in frontline health services, A2 are all senior citizens, A3 are persons with comorbidities, A4 are frontline personnel in essential sectors including uniformed personnel, and A5 are the indigent population.

On Monday night, Duterte threatened to use the police power of the state to compel people to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

"If it is not yet there in your place, 'di pa dumating ang supply well perfectly understood. Pero 'yung nandiyan na at ayaw ninyo o talagang may pinag-isipan," Duterte said.

"You know, I do not want to advance this theory,  but under the police power of the state, everybody can be compelled to vaccination," he added.

As COVID-19 pandemic continues to infect Filipinos, Duterte said normalcy may return after two to three years.

But he said it might shorten if the country reached herd immunity.

"We would not be able to return to the old norm mga ano pa siguro two to three years. Pero 'pag ang mga tao nandiyan ang bakuna, magpabakuna kaagad, maminimize yan," Duterte said.

Roque, in his briefing, reiterated that the government has authority to mandate vaccination especially among government workers.

"Kinakailagan bakunado para makapagtrabaho sa gobyerno [You need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to work in the government]. It (mandatory policy) is part of the state's police power to protect the welfare of community," he said.

Around 20.8 million Filipinos are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 so far. --with Llanesca T. Panti/KBK, GMA News