Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to send to jail those who refuse to inoculate themselves with the COVID-19 vaccine, while the country still struggles to contain its worst outbreak.
“If he doesn’t want to get vaccinated, I’ll have him arrested and then inject the vaccine into his buttocks,” Duterte, notorious for his bad manners, said Monday night during a televised speech.
“You decide, get the vaccine or I’ll put you in prison,” threatened the president, according to the Rappler news portal.
Although vaccination is voluntary in the Philippines, the president indicated that he will seek legal means within the current emergency law to find a way to force the population to receive the dose of the drug.
The president’s warning, who insisted that he will act “within the law,” comes as a result of the low vaccination records in the Philippine archipelago, where 1.36 million cases have been registered since the beginning of the pandemic, including more than 23,600 dead.
Many Filipinos are reluctant to get vaccinated after the controversy that sparked in 2016 with a dengue vaccine promoted by the government among children and later known to increase the risk of severe symptoms in patients who had not suffered the disease in last.
To date, the country has only managed to vaccinate 2.1 million people with the full dose, out of the nation’s nearly 110 million inhabitants.
The authorities’ goal is to vaccinate 70 million people before the end of the year.