No need for compulsory vaccination law if more get jabbed

MANILA – If more people voluntarily get inoculated against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), a new law that would compel vaccination might not be necessary, Malacañang said on Tuesday.

Cabinet Secretary and Acting Presidential Spokesperson Karlo Nograles made this remark after President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night said he favors mandatory Covid-19 vaccination.

While the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) is currently discussing the possibility of requiring vaccination, Nograles said the Palace is encouraged by the support displayed by the public during the first day of the country’s national vaccination drive “Bayanihan, Bakunahan” ceremonial vaccine rollout in Antipolo City.

The National Task Force Against Covid-19 said 2.55 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine were administered during the launching of the government’s three-day national vaccination drive on Monday.

Nograles expressed optimism that the good turnout of vaccination drive on Monday, would persist even after the last day of the event on December 1.

Nakikita naman natin na tuloy-tuloy itong massive vaccination (We can see that this massive vaccination is picking up). We’re seeing 1 million vaccinees per day and then ngayon dahil sa three-day massive vaccination rollout natin, itong Bayanihan, Bakunahan, ang target natin ay 3 million per day, then hopefully there might not be a need for that kung realistically on the ground e marami naman po ang nagpabakuna (and because of the three-day massive vaccination rollout, this Bayanihan, Bakunahan, our target is 3 million per day then hopefully there might not be a need for that if there were more getting vaccinated),” he said in a Palace press briefing.

He, however, admitted that the IATF-EID would also have to consider new variants of Covid-19, such as the Omicron variant, that could wreak havoc across the country anew if not controlled.

“At the end of the day, ang pagba-balance natin diyan is yung, gaya ng sinabi ni Pangulo, yung police power of the state plus yung public health and safety ng lahat ng ating mga kababayan. So we continue to weigh the options right now sa IATF (we have to strike a balance between the police power of the state and public health and safety of everyone, just like the President said),” he added.

At present, he said the government continues to exert effort to enhance public trust in Covid-19 vaccination through Bayanihan, Bakunahan as well as intensified information campaigns.

Bayanihan, Bakunahan, which runs from November 29 to December 1, aims to vaccinate around 9 million individuals in 8,000 sites across 16 regions nationwide.

The Philippines aims to fully vaccinate a total of 54 million Filipinos by the end of the year.

In a televised meeting with the National Task Force (NTF) Against Covid-19 and medical experts in Malacañan Palace on Monday night, Duterte said he favored mandatory vaccination but lamented that passing a law takes time.

“As a worker of government also in charge of the overall operations of the government, I may agree with the task force if they decide to make it mandatory. It’s for public health,” he said.

Instead of waiting for Congress to pass a law, Duterte said the government’s police power could also compel citizens to get vaccinated against Covid-19.

Better turnout

Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año is also satisfied with the turnout at the nationwide vaccination drive.

Though 600,000 jabs short of its 3 million target, Nograles said the number might still change once more data from local government units (LGUs) come in.

“As we speak tuloy-tuloy pa rin ang paghingi namin ng report mula sa ibat-ibang (As we speak, we continue to request for the reports of different) LGUs so that may not still be the final number. Abangan na lang natin any updates doon as (Let us just wait for more updates) we continue to receive reports from the ground,” he said.

He also encouraged stakeholders in the public and private sector as well as the public to do their part in convincing others to get vaccinated against Covid-19.

“We are all in this together, magtulungan po tayo dito (let’s help each other),” he added. (PNA)

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