PFIZER ROLLOUT. Manila residents wait in line for the rollout of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine at the Manila Prince Hotel in Ermita on Tuesday (May 18, 2021). An initial 900 doses of the Pfizer vaccine are available so far. (PNA photo by Avito C. Dalan)

MANILA – Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo on Wednesday reminded the public to observe physical distancing in coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccination sites, noting that crowding could ironically become a "super spreader" event.

Panelo issued this statement after a huge crowd of Parañaque residents on Monday flocked at a mall in hopes of getting inoculated with the Pfizer-BioNTech Cobid-19 vaccine.

“Pag nagkukumpulan ho kayo at nagkataon may dala kayong virus, spread nanaman ‘yan. Kaya puwede ho ba tayo’y palaging mag observe ng safe distance, pagsusuot ng maskara, face shield, ‘yan yung paulit-ulit na sinasabi ng [National Task Force Against Covid-19] deputy chief na si Vince Dizon (If you crowd there and you carry a virus, it’s going to spread. That’s why please observe the safe distance, wear your mask, face shield, that’s what deputy chief Vince Dizon keeps saying),” he said in his commentary show “Counterpoint”.

Citing Dizon, he said the crowded Pfizer vaccine rollout showed that vaccine confidence among Filipinos is increasing.

However, he noted that although vaccines prevent serious illness and deaths, it remains unclear how well they curb the spread of Covid-19 so everyone must still take extra caution.

"Habang lumalakas ang pagtitiwala ng ating mga kababayan sa coronavirus vaccine e marami din naman [nagtitiwala] na sila’y hindi na magkakasakit kasi akala nila nabakunahan na sila, okay na. Naku, maling-mali po kayo diyan (While the confidence of our citizens in vaccines is increasing, there are also more people who think that they will no longer get infected because they already got vaccinated. That’s very wrong),” he added.

Don’t be choosy

Panelo encouraged Filipinos to get vaccinated and refrain from being choosy on which Covid-19 vaccine brand to receive.

“Walang batayan yung pagkatakot niyo. Mas takot pa kayo sa bakuna kaysa dun sa sakit. Ano ba ‘yan? Mali ho ‘yun (Your fear has no basis. You are more afraid of getting a vaccine versus getting sick. What’s that? That’s wrong),” he said.

He explained that the benefits of getting a Covid-19 jab outweigh the risks.

“Mayroon na ba kayong narinig na namatay dahil sa bakuna? Wala. Maraming namamatay dahil hindi nagpabakuna (Are there people dying from vaccines? None. But there are a lot of people dying because they didn’t get vaccinated),” he added.

Regardless of the Covid-19 vaccine brand, Panelo noted that all vaccines have been proven to prevent serious illness or death.

Huwag na po kayo mamili (Don’t choose),” he said.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque earlier said only frontline medical workers will be given the privilege of choosing their preferred Covid-19 vaccines.

The country now has four brands of Covid-19 vaccines in its inventory namely Sinovac’s CoronaVac (China), AstraZeneca (UK), Sputnik V (Russia), and Pfizer (US).

Since the Philippines launched its vaccination drive on March 1, the government has already administered more than 3 million doses of vaccines throughout the country.

The Philippines aims to vaccinate around 70 million Filipinos by the end of the year. (PNA)