Mandatory vaccination eyed

Galvez points out need to ensure adequate supply, enact enabling law

posted September 18, 2021 at 12:10 am
by  Joyce Pangco Panares and Willie Casas, Joel Zurbano, Alena Mae Flores
The government is eyeing mandatory vaccination for all Filipinos, but the decision still depends on the vaccine supply and the passage of a law that would serve as its legal basis.

NO VAX, NO PASS. Members of the Hijos del Nazareno check the vaccination cards of devotees entering the premises of the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo, Manila on Friday as they only allow fully vaccinated individuals inside the church. Religious gatherings are allowed at 30% capacity in outdoor venues, but 10% indoor and only as many as 200 people   are allowed to enter. Norman Cruz/Danny Pata
National Task Force Against COVID-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said the plan to make vaccination mandatory is still being studied.

“We see that based on the data, 85 percent of Filipinos who test positive for COVID are unvaccinated, and majority if not all of the patients who are critical or are intubated are also unvaccinated,” Galvez said.

NTF spokesman Restituto Padilla said a major factor is the vaccine supply.

“We have not reached a decision yet. We will also likely need a legal basis for this,” Padilla said.

For its part, the Department of Health said under Republic Act No. 11525 or the COVID-19 Vaccination Act, inoculation is not required for workers and for those seeking employment.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire cited Section 12 which states that the vaccine cards “shall not be considered as an additional mandatory requirement for educational, employment, and other similar government transaction purposes.”

“While vaccination is not mandatory, we call on all eligible population to register to their respective local government units and avail COVID-19 vaccines for free for additional protection,” Vergeire said.

The Health official issued the statement after Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte issued an executive order on Wednesday requiring city government workers and volunteers to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Duterte’s order said plantilla personnel who refuse to be vaccinated shall be held administratively liable for insubordination.

Under the local EO, a penalty of one month and one day to six months suspension will be implemented for the first offense. For the second offense, the personnel will be dismissed from the service.

As of yesterday, the government has fully vaccinated at least 17 million people.

Authorities have administered 40 million vaccine shots, of which over 22 million were first jabs, said Palace spokesman Harry Roque.

The government aims to vaccinate up to 70 million people before the end of the year to achieve herd immunity.

President Rodrigo Duterte said if the vaccine supply becomes stable, vaccinating the general adult population may begin next month.

The country expects to take delivery of 61 million vaccine doses between this month and October.

Meanwhile, Galvez said at least 190,000 doses of Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine are scheduled to arrive this weekend.

“This shipment of Sputnik V vaccines shall be used for the second dose. After this, we will be receiving the single-shot Sputnik V Light as we move forward with our vaccine rollout,” he said.

“As per our vaccine experts from the Department of Health, the gap between first and second doses of Sputnik V can be as long as six months, so no need to worry because the vaccines are arriving soon,” he added.

Some 661,200 doses of Astrazeneca COVID-29 vaccine arrived yesterday at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.  

As of Sept. 15, the country has received a total of 57,547,610 vaccine doses from various manufacturers, of which over 36 million doses were procured by the national government.

Topics: mandatory vaccination , Carlito Galvez Jr. , COVID-19 , COVID-19 Vaccination Act
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