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By Andreo Calonzo and Ditas Lopez
The Philippines is targeting to vaccinate 15 million people against COVID-19 during a three-day drive, doubling down its push especially in remote areas as it lags neighbors in inoculations.
President Rodrigo Duterte ordered government workers to “use all available resources” during the vaccination drive from Nov. 29 to Dec. 1. He also directed soldiers and police to help deliver the vaccines, and even asked local officials to give fast-food treats to those who will get inoculated.
“I am authorizing all governors and mayors, just spend money. I will replace that some day,” Duterte said in remarks aired late Tuesday.
The Southeast Asian nation will have to increase its daily vaccinations by seven times to achieve its target for the three-day drive, with a current average of 691,800 doses per day. The Department of Health has said 160,000 volunteers are needed for the drive.
As of Nov. 23, more than 33.5 million people out of a population of 109 million have been fully vaccinated, Duterte said. The country has also started vaccinating minors, and more than 3 million kids aged 12 to 17 years old have received the shots.
The Philippines has eased most of the movement restrictions in the capital and other key areas as infections decline. It was at the bottom of Bloomberg’s Covid Resilience Ranking for a second straight month in October.
Effective Dec. 1, businesses must require workers who report in person to be vaccinated, according to a government order. Employees who remain unvaccinated shall be required to undergo regular RT-PCR testing, or antigen tests, at their own expense.
Philippine business groups have appealed that they be allowed to use their vaccine stocks as boosters. “We no longer have a shortage, and with such a large stockpile, we risk having vaccines expire and go to waste,” said the groups of businessmen, money market and foreign exchange traders, outsourcing companies, insurers and other executives.
© 2021 Bloomberg L.P.