DOTr plans vaccination sites at train stations, ports amid 'no vaccine, no ride' policy

DOTr plans vaccination sites at train stations, ports amid 'no vaccine, no ride' policy
A Manila resident gets inoculated at a drive-through vaccination site at the Quirino Grandstand. The health chief and several lawmakers have backed a plan to inoculate minors 12 to 17 years old.
Edd Gumban

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Transportation wants vaccination sites at transport hubs like ports after more than 100 Tausug travelers were starnded at Manila's North Harbor because of the "no vaccine, no travel" policy while President Rodrigo Duterte said there may be cultural resistance to vaccination in Muslim communities.

The officials, speaking at Duterte's weekly recorded briefing, were commenting on reports that dozens of Tausug families who were kept from boarding ferries for Zamboanga City because they had not been vaccinated yet when the government imposed its "no vaccine, no travel" policy on public transportation, including airplanes and ships.

The policy has been criticized as impractical and unfair and the government has since clarified that people going to work are not covered by it.

READ: Workers exempted from ‘no vaccine, no ride’ rule

Transport Secretary Art Tugade said that the stranded passengers had already been allowed to board but said in Filipino that the government must put up vaccination facilities at transportation hubs like North Harbor "so passengers who did not want to be vaccinated or have not been vaccinated can quickly be given an opportunity to be vaccinated."

Aside from North Harbor, the department plans to put up a vaccination site at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 4.

"I am happy to report to you that this morning, we began a mobile vaccination drive at Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange," he said in Filipino. "We hope to vaccinate 500 a day with this."

On-site vaccination is also planned at the Cubao, Shaw Boulevard, Boni and Ayala stations of the Metro Rail Transit, he said.

"Again, I will repeat, the vaccination facility that we will put up in all the sectors of the [department] will be in accordance with the details, policies,
and requirements of the [Department of Health]," he said.

Muslims don't want vaccination?

Noting that the stranded passengers are from Mindanao, Duterte said that there has been resistance to vaccination in the region, particularly in Muslim communities.

"I think the Muslim community dito sa Pilipinas mukhang ang karamihan is of the belief that it is not allowed by their — I don't know, is it religion or — I might be mistaken but it could be that or something else sa culture nila sa mga different — true for the Tausug, is it true for the," the president said.

(I think the Muslim community here in the Philippines, it seems most of them are of the belief it is not allowed...)

Retired general Carlito Galvez, Jr., chief implementer of the government's action plan against COVID-19, said last November that, in BARMM, "that has really been our problem, the hesitation."

The Islamic advisory council or the Darul-Ifta in the BARMM issued guidelines in March 2021 saying vaccination is allowed for Muslims. 

"The vaccine for healing and preventive measure, in general, is lawful (halal)," Grand mufti Abulhuraira Udasan, executive director of the BARMM Darul-Ifta, is quoted by MindaNews as saying.

According to the National COVID-19 Vaccination Dashboard, vaccination in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao has been lagging at 1,317,539 doses administered. There have been 475,636 BARMM residents who have completed vaccination and 47,946 have received booster doses.

Apart from vaccine hesitation, the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines may also be affected by geography and lack of storage and vaccination facilities. In some parts of Mindanao 

READ: More than 300 vials of COVID-19 vaccine wasted after freezer left unplugged




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