Department of Health

DOH to tap ad agencies to convince Pinoys to get COVID-19 vaccine

Mara Cepeda
DOH to tap ad agencies to convince Pinoys to get COVID-19 vaccine

PROMOTING THE VACCINATION PROGRAM. DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III speaks during the House hearing on the COVID-19 vaccination program on January 18, 2021.

Screenshot courtesy of the House's Youtube stream

DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III says they will 'multiply the cadre of champions' for the COVID-19 vaccination program

The Department of Health (DOH) will step up its drive to convince Filipinos to get themselves vaccinated for the coronavirus by seeking the expertise of advertising agencies and other “champions” across different sectors.

Speaking to lawmakers on Monday, January 18, DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III said the department has several activities lined up to boost their information drive to promote the government’s COVID-19 vaccination program. 

Apart from giving vaccine experts airtime to explain the benefits of getting inoculated against the virus, Duque said DOH will now be tapping into ad agencies to help craft their messaging.

“So we will be doing many things on top of our collaboration with the Philippine Information Agency. We will also be getting ad agencies to help us enhance our communications to the public to increase buy-in and strengthen their trust and confidence in the vaccines that the government will use,” Duque said in a mix of English and Filipino.

The DOH chief said they also plan to “multiply the cadre of champions” for the COVID-19 vaccination program, which will include “social” influencers, healthcare workers, local chief executives, government responders, community organizers, faith-based organizations, the academe, and even the media. 

Duque described social influencers as members of different associations of healthcare professionals.

The DOH will also be conducting town hall meetings, consultations, and assemblies “on the ground,” though Duque did not specify how these would be organized to ensure physical distancing protocols would be observed. 

Malacañang already said President Rodrigo Duterte himself is willing to go first in line for a COVID-19 vaccine once it is approved for domestic use by the Food and Drug Administration to convince more Filipinos to get immunized.

Immunization rates across the country were severely hampered by the Dengvaxia dengue vaccine scare, as parents became scared to get their children inoculated even for vaccine-preventable diseases like measles and polio.

A Pulse Asia survey conducted from November 23 to December 2, 2020 showed close to a majority of Filipinos or 47% are not willing to get the COVID-19 vaccine, while only 32% said they want to be immunized. 

The remaining 21% “cannot say” if they are willing to get vaccinated against the virus or not. 

A separate survey by the Octa Research Group also showed 47% of Metro Manila respondents were still undecided over whether to receive a shot that would protect them against COVID-19.

To date, the Philippines now has over half a million confirmed cases of COVID-19, with  9,895 deaths and 465,991 recoveries. –

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at or tweet @maracepeda.