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Andanar willing to be among first to get COVID-19 vaccine

January 27, 2021 - Wednesday 2:01 PM by PNA

Article Banner Image Communication Secretary Martin Andanar (File photo)

MANILA – Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar on Wednesday expressed his willingness to be among the first to receive the vaccine against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

In an interview with dzXL-RMN, Andanar said he is ready to take the first jabs to encourage Filipinos to avail of the free Covid-19 vaccine once the government starts its mass immunization drive.

“Willing din ako sumama doon sa una, dahil para naman kada labas natin, nangangampanya tayo para sa bakuna ay mayroon tayong maitatawag na walking the talk, ‘di ba? So, ako, no problem (I’m willing to join those who will receive the first vaccine shots so when we go on our information campaign, they can say we are walking the talk. So, I have no problem with that),” he said.

Senator Christopher Lawrence Go has repeatedly called on Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. to take up the challenge to be the first persons to avail of the Covid-19 vaccine once it becomes available in the country.

Andanar said he, along with other PCOO officials, may be among the first to get the Covid-19 vaccine to prove its efficacy and safety.

“Ganoon din ang ating mga kasamahan sa PCOO, mga Undersecretary, siguro kailangan din nilang magpabakuna kaagad para makita ng ating mga kababayan, as communicators na iyong mga nagsasalita, iyong mga ambassador ika nga, iyong mga nagpo-promote ika nga ay sila ay nagbabakuna rin (Perhaps, our PCOO undersecretaries should also take the first Covid-19 vaccine shots so the public would be convinced that we as communicators who promote the vaccine are also ready to get inoculated),” he said.

On January 13, President Rodrigo Duterte said he and other government officials are willing to be the last in line to get vaccinated against Covid-19 to give way to priority groups, such as health care workers, uniformed personnel, and the indigents.

The Philippine government’s target is to start the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccination program in February.

On Monday, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said about 63 percent of the country’s population, or 70 million people aged 18 years and above, are expected to be inoculated within the year.

Dominguez explained that between 57 million and 60 million Filipinos would secure the vaccines funded by the government, while the remaining 10 million to 13 million would be covered by local government units and the private sector.

Allay public apprehensions

Andanar said the government, through its “Explain, Explain, Explain” information campaign, aims to boost the public’s confidence in receiving the Covid-19 vaccine.

This was after private polling firm Pulse Asia, in its survey conducted from November 23 to December 2 last year, found that 47 percent of Filipinos do not want to get vaccinated.

Only 32 percent expressed willingness to receive the vaccine while the remaining 21 percent were still undecided.

While he acknowledged that it is a “big challenge” to convince all Filipinos to join the government’s mass vaccination drive, Andanar said the PCOO would do its best to equip the public with the right information about the vaccines.

“Sapagkat ayon kay Presidente ay kailangan talagang mabakunahan ang ating mga kababayan para tayo ay magkaroon ng isang lipunan na puwede nang ulit mangarap, puwedeng makipag-compete sa ibang ekonomiya (The President has said our fellow Filipinos need to get inoculated so we can build a society that can once again dream and compete with other economies),” he said.

The PCOO and its attached agency, the Philippine Information Agency (PIA), launched on January 19 the government’s “Explain, Explain, Explain” information campaign in Mandaue City, Cebu.

In his keynote speech during the launch of the information drive, Andanar said the PCOO and the PIA would continue to “disseminate and reiterate the need to observe health protocols and precautionary measures, to dispel false information, and to advocate for preparedness and vigilance and harnessing solidarity through participatory governance."  Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos