Philippines’ Vaccine Advisers Nix Early Shots for Influencers

The Philippines has rejected a proposal to have 50 so-called “influencers” undergo public Covid-19 vaccinations.

The plan from the Philippines’ Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases to have public officials, media and movie personalities get coronavirus shots in order to boost the public’s vaccine confidence wasn’t approved, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said on Tuesday. The advisory group for the country’s inoculation program maintained that health care workers should be the priority, he said in a televised briefing.

The push to inoculate influencers comes as some governments around the world shift their focus from ensuring they have enough vaccine supplies on hand to getting citizens to take them, amid widespread skepticism toward the shots.

In the U.S., Joe Biden’s administration is working to increase confidence in Johnson & Johnson’s new single-shot vaccine. China, which saw success corralling the virus, has had a slower than expected vaccine rollout due to its population’s hesitation, including concerns about safety and protection level of protection promised by local vaccines. Indonesia is requiring eligible people to get the vaccines -- or face punishments including fines.

The Philippines, which has Southeast Asia’s second-worst outbreak, started its inoculation drive on Monday using China-donated vaccines made by Sinovac Biotech Ltd. Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said 756 individuals were vaccinated as of Monday.

There appears to be pent-up demand for the shots in the Philippines, which like India is allowing private purchases of Covid-19 vaccines, while Indonesia has sanctioned private distribution. Roughly two-thirds of the country’s employers have already arranged -- or are arranging -- the purchase of vaccines for their staff, according to a survey by Willis Towers Watson and the People Management Association of the Philippines. About half are considering procuring vaccines for employees’ dependents, including spouses and children, Willis Towers Watson said.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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