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No distinction between vaccinated, unvaxxed individuals – DOH

Shiela Crisostomo - The Philippine Star
No distinction between vaccinated, unvaxxed individuals â DOH
DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that according to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), “there will be no distinction between vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.”
The STAR / Boy Santos

MANILA, Philippines — Since the supply of COVID-19 jabs in the country is still not enough, the Department of Health (DOH) said yesterday that both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals will be treated similarly.

DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that according to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), “there will be no distinction between vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.”

“Their point is that the supply of vaccines is still not enough to say that only vaccinated (ones) can go out and the unvaccinated cannot go out. So for now, there is no differentiation,”
she added.

Vergeire also explained that according to experts, “there might be legal implications” if the movement of unvaccinated individuals will be restricted.

Earlier, President Duterte warned unvaccinated individuals to “just stay at home” and instructed police and barangay officials to escort them back home.

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said the President’s remark is just his way of “strongly urging the public” to get inoculated.

“We understand the sentiments of the President and we know that this is his way of encouraging our countrymen that are still doubtful on the efficacy of vaccines,” Eleazar said in Filipino.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon yesterday said that while the government may impose restrictions on unvaccinated Filipinos, a law must first be passed before enforcing the ban.

“It is well within the power of the state to restrict the movement of unvaccinated individuals. However, a law must be passed if the government wants to punish, arrest or jail those unvaccinated,” Drilon, a former justice secretary, said.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) also cautioned the government against policies that could lead to discrimination of unvaccinated individuals.

“With all these challenges, preventing unvaccinated individuals from leaving their homes may result in undue discrimination, considering that there are reasons for being unvaccinated that are beyond their control. Such restrictions will ultimately impact their abilities to cope with the effects of the pandemic,” CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said.

Appeal

Business groups led by presidential adviser for entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion called on the government to continue its strategies against COVID-19, including stepping up the vaccine rollout as National Capital Region (NCR) shifts to enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) next week.

“While this will further hurt our struggling businesses, we expect the government to mitigate the damage by increasing vaccine supply and ensuring that vaccination programs continue even under ECQ, as this is really the solution to controlling the pandemic,” the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) said.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) assured the public there will be no letup in the vaccination drive in NCR even during ECQ.

“Vaccinations will definitely be continued. There will be no letup in our vaccination rollout during the ECQ,” DILG spokesman Jonathan Malaya said.

Meanwhile, World Health Organization (WHO) representative Rabindra Abeyasinghe expressed concern over the low vaccination rate of senior citizens amid the growing threat from new variants. “We are very concerned that most of our older, more vulnerable people are still missing out on essential, life-saving vaccines against COVID-19,” he said.

More jabs arrive

One million doses of Sinovac vaccines procured by the government arrived yesterday at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 aboard Cebu Pacific flight 5J 723.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said that 60-70 percent of this latest vaccine shipment would be deployed to NCR Plus, while the rest will be given to cities tagged as high risk.

Some 19.5 million doses of Sinovac have so far been delivered to the country, including the one million doses donated by the Chinese government.

The United Kingdom has also donated 415,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines to the Philippines, tentatively scheduled to arrive on Monday afternoon.

UK Ambassador Daniel Pruce informed Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. about the donation during his farewell call at the Department of Foreign Affairs on Thursday.  –  Emmanuel Tupas, Janvic Mateo, Paolo Romero, Louella Desiderio, Jose Rodel Clapano, Helen Flores, Romina Cabrera

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