INCLUDE YOUR KIDS. A kid gets inoculated with the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccine during the initial rollout for children aged 5 to 11 years at the Fil Oil Flying V Centre, San Juan City on Monday (Feb. 7, 2022). President Rodrigo Duterte urged the public anew to get their Covid-19 vaccine and include their children because it will ensure their health and life in the future. (PNA photo by Joey O. Razon)

MANILA – As the country kicked off Covid-19 vaccination for children aged 5 to 11 years old on Monday, President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday renewed his call to parents and their kids to get their jabs.

“Get the vaccines and include your children because it will ensure their health and life in the future. Importante talaga ang bakuna (Vaccines are important),” he said in his prerecorded Talk to the People.

He said it is important to vaccinate children “for they constitute the next generation of Filipinos.”

“These are Filipinos of tomorrow. It is very important that you bring your children to vaccination sites and have them vaccinated,” he said. “If you love your country, ang anak mo, pagsabayin mo ang dalawang rason na yan (if you love your children, use these two reasons), have them vaccinated.”

Citing Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, Duterte said data showed that majority of those who died due to Covid-19 have yet to receive their jabs.

Duque, in the same meeting, said around 93 percent of fatalities due to Covid-19 in 2021 were not vaccinated against the disease.

Duterte said he has been encouraging the public to get vaccinated, warning them that the health crisis is not over yet.

Noon, sinabi namin. Ngayon, sabihin ko ulit. Ewan ko ilang beses (Before, we told you. Now, we’re telling you again. I don’t know how many times) I have to say the statement. Of course, with a warning that sa sitwasyon ngayon (in the situation now), we are not over the hump. Di pa tayo magsabi na wala na (We can’t say it’s gone) because the microbes are still in the air,” he said.

“Ako, nagpapasensya ako sa inyo na miski ganito nalang na paulit-ulit dahil nga interisado akong mabuhay kayo. Pero kung gusto ninyo mamatay, okay man rin. Maluwang pa ang maraming libingan dito (Me, I’m being patient with you even if I have to repeatedly say it because I want you to live. But if you want to die, it’s fine. There are a lot of cemeteries here),” he added.

Duterte said he could not understand why there were still people who resisted getting vaccinated despite learning about worldwide deaths.

“I really do not understand ang utak ng mga taong ito. Nakikita nila yung patay, sinasabi na ng people in the government and in the private sector about the importance of vaccination but until people realize na kung nandiyan na, nasa ospital na, lahat naman nasa ospital ngayon, hindi bakunado. Ayan, ospital kaagad (I really do not understand how their brains work. They can already see people dying, people in the government and in the private sector are talking about the importance of vaccination but until people realize that patients in hospitals are not vaccinated. There, they go straight to the hospital),” he said.

He added that he does not want to sound “morbid” by stating facts, but noted that it is necessary that the public is informed.

“Masakit nga pakinggan pero kailangan ko sabihin sa inyo yung totoo (It sounds painful, but I need to tell you the truth). We do not talk of things which are not true. We do not dwell on matters that are falsehoods. We are not allowed to say something here na hindi tama. Kailangan talaga ang lumalabas sa bunganga naming yung tama lang (that is not right. What comes out of our mouth is only the truth),” he said.

Although the Omicron variant of Covid-19 has been believed to be milder than other variants, Duterte said getting vaccinated would help protect them against severe symptoms and death from variants such as Delta.

To date, the Pfizer vaccine is being used for pediatric vaccination as it is the only jab that has received emergency use approval for kids aged 5 to 11 years old from the Philippines' Food and Drug Administration.

The Pfizer vaccine for children has a lower dosage and lower concentration than those given to minors aged 12 to 17, who started receiving their jabs in October 2021.

Presidential Adviser on Covid-19 Response, Secretary Vince Dizon, informed Duterte that 60 million Filipinos are now fully vaccinated.

Meanwhile, more than 8 million booster shots have been administered. (PNA)