The Philippine Department of Health urged employers today to rethink a proposed policy of preventing non-vaccinated Filipinos from working, saying this was hard to achieve due to the low number of vaccines available in the country.
“If there are a lot of vaccines, that’s the ideal policy. But for now, we’re not sure how many people will get vaccinated because of the lack of supply,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in an interview with the news program Unang Balita.
“Company owners should rethink that because this is inequitable and there will be an effect especially those on our poor workers,” she added in English and Filipino.
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez has already said that employers cannot force their workers to get themselves vaccinated.
The Philippines has started legally inoculating its health workers this week, the last in Southeast Asia to do so. At least 600,000 dosages of donated CoronaVac arrived on Sunday from China, while 487,000 donated AstraZeneca doses from Covax are scheduled to arrive tonight.
Numerous Filipinos have declared that they are unwilling to get themselves vaccinated with Sinovac’s CoronaVac, citing the lack of Phase 3 trial data. This led vaccine czar and former military general Carlito Galvez Jr. to urge the public to stop being obsessed over Western-made vaccine, adding that CoronaVac, despite its relatively low efficacy, will help prevent hospitalization and severe cases of COVID-19.
CoronaVac has been approved for emergency use in the Philippines by the local Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but not for health workers who are exposed to the coronavirus. However, the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group of the Department of Health contradicted the FDA and recommended the vaccine, saying that it was “safe” to use by frontliners.
As of yesterday, the Philippines has 582,223 COVID-19 cases, including 543,778 recoveries and 12,389 deaths.
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