President Rodrigo Duterte has stood pat on his statement that the government will not force Filipinos to get inoculated with a Covid-19 vaccine, a Palace official said Thursday.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles made this remark after a group of labor unions expressed concern over an “emerging” policy of some businesses requiring their workers to get vaccinated against Covid-19 before they are allowed to return to work.
China’s donated 600,000 doses of Sinovac-made CoronaVac vaccines is the only vaccine brand currently available in the country. However, a number of frontline medical workers have refused to be injected with CoronaVac over efficacy doubts.
The government aims to inoculate 50 million to 70 million Filipinos nationwide, but it is not making inoculation against Covid-19 mandatory.
“Walang pilitan para kay Pangulong Duterte. Although talagang ini-encourage niya at ini-encourage ng buong gobyerno ang lahat ng mga kababayan natin na pagdating ng takdang oras na kayo na rin po ay susunod sa linya na nga po ng magpapabakunahan, tanggapin po natin ito ng buong loob at walang pag-aalinlangan (The President won’t force anyone. Although he and the entire government is encouraging the public to accept the vaccine without hesitation when the time comes that they are next in line to receive the vaccine),” Nograles said in a virtual presser.
He expressed confidence that there would be higher trust and acceptance for Covid-19 vaccines as soon as more frontline healthcare workers receive their shots.
“Sa una nga po may mga agam-agam pa maging sa health and medical sector po natin. Hindi naman po lahat ng mga healthcare workers on day one ay agad na pumayag pero habang nagro-rollout ng vaccine, at naumpisahan na nga po, ay tumataas din ‘yung kumpiyansa ng ating mga healthcare workers (In the beginning, healthcare workers had doubts. Not all healthcare workers would agree to get inoculated on day one, but as the vaccine rollout continues, their confidence has started to increase),” he said.
More hospitals, including private hospitals, have reached out to request Covid-19 vaccine allocation, Nograles said.
“So ibig pong sabihin maging ‘yung demand for the vaccines nung Sinovac ay naging mataas na maging sa mga healthcare workers so ganun din po ang mangyayari for the rest of the population (So this means that the demand for Sinovac has increased and that will also happen for the rest of the population),” he said.
Earlier, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said he is set to issue an order prohibiting Covid-19 vaccinations as a requirement for returning to work.
The “no vaccination, no work” policy enforced by any company or employer is illegal, he said.
He warned companies against enforcing such a policy, stressing that they could be held liable under the law if they fire or suspend an employee who refuses inoculation against Covid-19. (PNA)