Philippines OKs walk-ins, faster screening during COVID-19 vaccinations

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Philippines OKs walk-ins, faster screening during COVID-19 vaccinations
A health worker prepares a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine booster at the Marikina Sports Complex on Monday, Jan. 3, 2022.
The STAR / Walter Bollozos

MANILA, Philippines — The government has simplified rules for vaccination to encourage more Filipinos to get life-saving shots as COVID-19 cases in the country reach unprecedented highs.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said Friday that walk-ins are now allowed in vaccination sites.

Only those with history or symptoms of hypertension need to get their blood pressure taken before vaccination, Nograles added.

“You will no longer be required to present medical clearance or certification to get vaccinated,” he said in Filipino.

Only those with autoimmune disease, HIV and cancer, bedridden patients, and individuals who underwent transplant or are getting steroid treatments are required to present medical certificates.

Since March last year, only 54.4 million of the country’s 109 million population have completed vaccination against COVID-19, while 58.5 million individuals have received partial protection.

The government has so far administered 4.4 million booster doses.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. urged local government units to increase their vaccination rates, stressing the surge driven by the hyper-contagious Omicron variant “will target the unvaccinated.”

The government will start banning unvaccinated people from using public transport in Metro Manila next week, a policy that rights and mobility groups said unfairly targets the poor who cannot work from home and restricts the exercise of fundamental rights.

Several local governments in the country have also passed ordinances regulating the movement of unvaccinated residents.

The Philippines on Friday reported 37,207 additional infections, bringing the number of active cases to 265,509.

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