Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri said Thursday, August 12, that the Philippines needs to reach COVID-19 herd immunity by the end of the year to ensure that the voice of the majority will be heard in the May 2022 polls.
During a Pulse Asia survey in June Filipinos were asked if they would go out and vote if the COVID-19 situation in their area was high and the result was quite alarming since the election of national and local leaders should reflect the voice of the majority, said Zubiri, in a press conference with the Bacolod media via Zoom.
He said 46 percent of the respondents said they would not vote, 19 percent were undecided and only 35 percent said they would vote.
That is a large percentage who will not vote and they cannot be blamed because their lives are important, Zubiri said.
“Even if there is a low turnout of voters it will not necessarily mean a failure of elections, the fear is those elected will not be chosen by the majority,” he said. The president could be elected by only 10 to 15 percent of the population, Zubiri pointed out.
The target is to vaccinate 77 million Filipinos against COVID-19 by the end of the year to hit herd immunity, but 64 million still need to be vaccinated, he said.
There are only 142 days left to hit heard immunity by the end of the year, and to achieve that there needs to be a daily vaccination rate of 450,704 nationwide, he said.
As of Thursday, 14.1 million Filipinos had received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccines and 12 million Filipinos had been fully vaccinated, which is 15 percent of the target, he said.
So far, the Philippines has received 39.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, he said.
It is important to be vaccinated so that one will not be seriously hit by COVID-19 and die, he said. Those who have been vaccinated who were hit by the virus have been asymptomatic or have had only mild symptoms, he said.
Zubiri said what is dangerous is the Delta variant that is very strong and tough, it has caused the hospitalization of many, including children.
“We need to protect our children by vaccinating the adults, and eventually children aged 12 to 17 years old can also be vaccinated,” he said.
Amid complaints that vaccines are arriving in the provinces in trickles, Zubiri said he has appealed to the Inter-Agency Task Force that 30 percent of the vaccines be allocated for the National Capital Region and 70 percent to the rest of the country.
On the complaints that COVID-19 vaccination cards issued by local governments are not being accepted in Hong Kong, Zubiri said the Philippine Bureau of Quarantine issues vaccine passports for those who travel.
He will see if the Bureau of Quarantine issuance of vaccine passports can also be done in the provinces, Zubiri said.
Meanwhile, Zubiri said unless the law is amended employers cannot force their workers to be vaccinated or fire them for refusing to do so.*