Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has threatened his country’s citizens with jail time if they didn’t get vaccinated soon. The island nation is a COVID-19 hotspot in Asia. The vaccine drive was slow to take off and now there is vaccine hesitancy as the rollout begins according to the president, but other officials have said that inadequate vaccine supply was the bigger problem.
Monday night, in a televised address to the Filipinos, Duterte said that he was irritated with those who were not taking a jab. In his brash style he said that there was a crisis and a national emergency and if they didn’t want to get vaccinated, he would get the residents arrested and would “inject the vaccine in your butt” unless they chose to get vaccinated
He also told those who did not want to get vaccinated to leave the island nation. He told them that they could go to India or America. He also said that village leaders would be compelled to draw up a list of those who refuse to be vaccinated.
On Tuesday, the Justice Secretary cleared up the matter by saying that there was no Philippine law that criminalized those who refused to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. Menardo Guevarra also said that he believed that the President had used strong words to drive home the message that the nation had to get vaccinated at the earliest to reach herd immunity.
Philippines has seen more than 1.3 million cases and more than 23,749 deaths. The vaccination drive began in March and has been beset by problems, one among which is vaccine hesitancy. There are also supply problems and many prefer to wait for Western vaccines as Sinovac is the current COVID-19 vaccine that is being used in the island nation.
Duterte has also gone back on an earlier statement on face shields. He had said that Filipinos needed to wear plastic face shields as additional protective gear over face masks only in hospitals. After health officials briefed him about more contagious variants the president said that it was mandatory to wear face shields both outdoors and indoors.