By Deighton Acuin

PHOTO: Presidential Communications

President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday encouraged Filipinos to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as the Philippines will start its vaccination program after the delivery of 600,000 vaccine doses from China-based Sinovac Biotech.

“To my fellow Filipinos, please set your fears aside. These vaccines are backed by science and deliberated on by our experts. Filipino experts,” Duterte said in a speech during the turnover ceremony of the vaccines.

“I encourage you to get vaccinated at the soonest possible time. And be our partner in preventing the further spread of the disease,” Duterte added.

Duterte also reminded those who will get inoculated to follow minimum health standards such as wearing of face masks and observing physical distancing.

Duterte added he expressed hopes that vaccine shipment will serve as a “guarantee” the government is “taking big steps in efforts to overcome” the deadly pandemic.

He then ordered government agencies to institutionalize whole-of-government approach during the roll out of vaccines.

“I wish to assure the public that your government remains committed to a timely [vaccine] roll out that will enable us to confidently reopen our society,” Duterte said.

He also thanked health care workers for their “valuable and selfless” contribution in the fight against Covid-19, vowing that the government will always be “by [their] side, ready to help in any way we can.”

He also called for equitable vaccine distribution, saying the Covid-19 vaccines should be treated as a “global public good” and be made available to everyone.

“No nation, no people should be left to suffer the ravages of this pandemic for whatever reason,” Duterte said.

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