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Gov't now discussing possibility of mandatory COVID-19 vaccination —NTF spox

The government is now discussing how it can implement mandatory vaccination against COVID-19 to further increase coverage rates, National Task Force Against COVID-19 (NTF) spokesperson Restituto Padilla Jr. said Saturday.

“Ito ang usapin ngayon sa IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases). Kasalukuyan nagkakaroon ng diskusyon diyan para kung maaring ituloy ang pagkakaroon ng mandatory vaccination,” Padilla said in an interview on Dobol B TV.

(This is what is being discussed now in the IATF. Currently, there are discussions on how to push through with mandatory vaccination.)

“Although hindi pa ito naisapinal, patuloy pa rin ang mga diskusyon dito dahil may mga legal na kailangang ikonsidera. Pero nandoon na ang direksyon ng ating usapin at namo-monitor sa loob ng IATF,” the NTF spokesman said.

(Although this is not yet finalized, discussions are still ongoing because there are legal matters that need to be considered. Nonetheless, discussions are already in that direction which are being monitored inside the IATF.)

Padilla said the basis for mandatory vaccination are statistics that show most of the severe or critical COVID-19 cases are the unvaccinated ones.

It is also important for the country to achieve herd immunity against the virus so that the economy can recover faster, he added.

Once a law is enacted making vaccination mandatory, Padilla said there will be consequences for those who still refuse to get jabbed.

“Kung sakaling maging batas ito, merong repercussions ‘yung hindi pagbabakuna maliban na lang kung merong dahilan. Kasi may mga tao na hindi puwedeng bakunahan dahil sa medical conditions na mailalagay sa alanganin,” he said.

(If ever this becomes a law, there will be repercussions against those who refuse to get vaccinated unless they have reasons such as medical conditions which could put them in danger if vaccinated.)

The Department of Health (DOH) expressed support Friday for the mandatory vaccination of specific vulnerable sectors against COVID-19, saying it is needed to achieve population protection.

Vaccine czar and NTF Against COVID-19 Chief Implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. on Thursday said he is now in favor of mandatory vaccination against COVID-19 and that an executive order from President Rodrigo Duterte may be sufficient for it.

"I believe puwede kasi tulad ng ginawa natin sa no smoking [policy]," he said when asked if an EO is enough for mandatory vaccination, especially of people in the education sector.

(I believe it is possible similar to what we did with the no smoking [policy].)

"Kung lahat tayo ay vaccinated, doon lang tayo talaga magkakaroon ng tinatawag nating complete safety and protection [We can only achieve safety and protection if all of us are vaccinated],” he said, citing the World Health Organization. 

Meanwhile, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Saturday said is looking at how it can implement a “no vaccine, no subsidy” policy for unvaccinated beneficiaries of the conditional cash transfer or Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).

DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said many 4Ps beneficiaries still refuse to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

With this, the agency is proposing to “disincentivize” the unvaccinated government aid recipients.

The DOH on Friday logged 2,376 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the country’s active cases to 37,377.

According to the DOH, the nationwide tally climbed to 2,797,986. —KG, GMA News