President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday suggested that anti-vaxxers, or nonbelievers of vaccines, be inoculated in their sleep so the country could further ramp up its vaccination numbers.
The president voiced the idea In his “Talk to the People” address that aired on Tuesday, during which he said vaccine hesitancy continued to slow down the country’s vaccination efforts.
“Magpabakuna. Alam ko marami pang ayaw e. Iyan ang problema, ‘yung ayaw magpabakuna. Kaya hanapin ninyo ‘yan sa barangay ninyo,” he said.
“Akyatin natin ‘pag tulog at turukin natin habang natutulog para makumpleto ‘yung istorya. E kung ayaw, edi akyatin sa bahay e, tusukin natin sa gabi. I will lead the journey,” he added.
The president has been critical of anti-vaxxers since the Philippines launched its inoculation program earlier this year.
In April, he blasted anti-vaxxers, saying they should go ahead and die instead of putting people around them at risk.
In the Philippines, patients have the right to informed consent before being administered medicine such as the Covid-19 vaccine.
In the process of vaccination, Covid-19 vaccine recipients are required to sign an informed consent form to clearly indicate a willingness to be vaccinated given full information about the vaccine brand.
Vaccine recipients are also required to undergo a health screening prior to vaccination.
According to the Philippine Department of Health, “vaccination is not mandatory, but the government highly encourages the public to get vaccinated and be protected against preventable disease.”
In September, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said under his powers, Duterte can only invoke the police to compel people to have themselves vaccinated, but he cannot penalize anti-vaxxers unless there was legislation mandating vaccines.
“There must be a law making anti-Covid vaccination mandatory. In the absence of such a law, the executive branch may only use moral suasion, including the grant of incentives to encourage widespread voluntary vaccination,” he said.
As of Oct. 10, 23,186,960 Filipinos have been fully vaccinated, while 26,486,522 individuals have received their first dose.
The Philippines has recorded 2,683,372 Covid-19 cases as of Oct. 12. John Ezekiel J. Hirro