President Rodrigo Duterte was only joking when he said he would lead efforts to inoculate those who still refuse to get Covid-19 vaccines by jabbing them as they slept, Malacañang said Thursday.
Duterte only wanted to make Cabinet officials laugh during their lengthy meetings when he made the remark, said presidential spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque.
“That’s only a joke,” Roque said, referring to the President’s quip. “Of course, of all the lengthy meetings we had — you only see short versions of it — we needed a joke so we won’t go to sleep.”
Duterte, in his public address last Monday, lamented that some individuals were still averse to anti-coronavirus shots.
He added that they should be inoculated while they were asleep.
“Let’s enter their houses and vaccinate them while they are asleep,” Duterte said in a mix of English and vernacular. “I will lead the journey.”
It was not the first time that the President raised a controversial — if not ridiculous — suggestion to boost the state’s vaccination efforts.
Last June, he threatened to jail people who don’t want to receive the coveted shots against coronavirus.
The President then warned to inject Filipinos averse to Covid-19 vaccines with the anti-parasitic medicine Ivermectin intended for animals.
The Palace, however, was not keen on urging Congress to approve a measure mandating Covid-19 vaccination, saying the matter should be left to lawmakers.
“That’s for Congress to enact,” Roque said.
“A lot of people want to get vaccinated against Covid-19. Let us vaccinate them first before we pass a law for mandatory vaccination,” he added.
The country is teeming with Covid-19 vaccine supply with 88 million doses delivered to the country so far, based on the government’s latest data.
Seven months after the government rolled out its Covid-19 inoculation drive, some 23.7 million Filipinos have been fully vaccinated and 27.1 million individuals have received their first shots.
The government recently expanded the vaccination coverage to the general population, including minors aged 12 to 17.