Duterte wants free vaccination for police, soldiers, and their families

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 23) — President Rodrigo Duterte has assured police and military personnel they will be among the first to be vaccinated against COVID-19 for free, along with their families.

Uniformed personnel are fifth in the list of priority groups in the government's vaccination program, next to health care workers, indigent senior citizens, remaining senior citizens, and the indigent population. Workers from several industries will also be prioritized in the first wave of the vaccine rollout.

“’Iyon talagang mga mahirap na isang tuka, isang kahig. Unahin ko ‘yon pati ‘yung uniformed service kasi paano kung magkasakit itong lahat... How can we function [as] a government with a sick soldier or policeman in your midst?” Duterte said during a visit to the Kuta Heneral Teodulfo Bautista Headquarters in Jolo, Sulu on Friday.

[Translation: I will really prioritize the indigent, as well as uniformed service because what will happen if they get sick? How can we function [as] a government with a sick soldier or policeman in your midst?]

Duterte said he will ask the country’s vaccine czar, Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr., to also prioritize the families of uniformed personnel.

Magpunta ‘yung mga mag-inject sa mga kampo, turukan pati ‘yung mga anak ninyo. So ito lahat, libre ito... para hindi kayo magworry,” the commander-in-chief added.

[Translation: Those who will inject the vaccines will go to the camp and inoculate including your children. This is all free, so you don't have to worry.]

The government seeks to procure a total of 148 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines this year, enough to inoculate 70 million people. It expects the first 50,000 doses from Chinese drug maker Sinovac on February 20, by which time the company would be able to secure emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration. Vaccines from the global COVAX facility will be received in the first quarter. With this development, Pfizer vaccines could reach the country by February, officials earlier said.

Although the President has repeatedly said he wants the police and military vaccinated first, officials said the 50,000 doses of Sinovac's CoronaVac vaccine will be administered to health care workers.

Members of the Presidential Security Group got COVID-19 vaccine shots that they said were donated by unnamed groups as early as September 2020, but investigations are underway into how these unauthorized vaccines presumably were “smuggled” into the country and used on Duterte’s detail.