Coronavirus Global situation

Duterte orders freebies to achieve 15m shots in 3 days

MANILA • The Philippines aims to vaccinate 15 million people against Covid-19 during a three-day drive, doubling down on its push especially in remote areas as it falls behind its neighbours in jabs.

President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered government workers to "use all available resources" during the Nov 29 to Dec 1 drive.

He has also directed soldiers and police to help deliver the vaccines, and has asked local officials to give out fast-food treats to those who will get inoculated.

"I am authorising all governors and mayors, just spend money. I will replace that some day," Mr Duterte said on Tuesday.

The South-east Asian nation will have to raise its daily vaccination rate by seven times to hit its target for the three-day drive, with a current average of 691,800 doses per day. The Department of Health had earlier said 160,000 volunteers are needed for the drive.

More than 33.5 million people out of a population of 109 million have been fully vaccinated, Mr Duterte said. The country has also started vaccinating minors, and over three million of them aged 12 to 17 have received the shots.

The Philippines has eased most of its movement curbs in the capital and other key areas as infections fall. It was at the bottom of Bloomberg's Covid-19 Resilience Ranking for a second straight month in October.

Meanwhile, business groups have appealed to the authorities to 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 and foreign exchange traders, outsourcing companies, insurers and other executives.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 25, 2021, with the headline 'Duterte orders freebies to achieve 15m shots in 3 days'. Subscribe