MANILA— The official leading the country's inoculation strategy on Wednesday rejected making COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory in the Philippines, even if the country is racing against time to control the growth of virus infections likely driven by the more contagious Delta variant.
According to vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., COVID-19 vaccinations will only be made mandatory once the country has steady vaccine supply.
But Filipinos, he said, have a "moral obligation" to be immunized against the deadly disease, most especially those who are eligible for it.
“Magiging mandatory ‘yan pag mayroon na tayong enough na supply. Sa ngayon nakita natin kulang pa ang supply natin. We cannot really require ang ating lahat ng tao na magpabakuna,” explained Galvez.
(It can only be mandatory once we get enough vaccine supplies. Our supply is still limited at present, which is why we cannot require everyone to get vaccinated)
“Pero we are obliging them as per moral obligation to keep their family and themselves safe… Vaccine works. We can beat the Delta [variant] with the vaccine,” he added.
(We are obliging them based on their moral obligation, to keep their family and themselves safe)
The guidelines under the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), meanwhile, will be imposed to all residents in Metro Manila vaccinated against COVID-19 or not.
“Kung ano ‘yung provisions sa ECQ, we will impose this to everybody,” sabi niya.
(Whatever the provisions in the ECQ are, we will impose to everybody.)
The health department, meanwhile, expects to distribute the recently-donated Moderna vaccines to local government units.
A total of 2 million of the 3 million US-donated Moderna vaccines will be allocated to the capital region, Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje said.
Mayors in the region earlier appealed for an additional 4 million virus jabs to boost their immunization program during the ECQ.
Earlier, the National Task Force Against COVID-19 said some of the allocations would come from Sinovac vaccines that recently arrived in the country.
Local chief executives have committed to administer at least 250,000 vaccine doses daily during the tougher lockdown, which will begin on Friday and last until Aug. 20.
As of Tuesday, the government has been able to administer nearly 21.9 million doses, over 12 million of which are first doses, data collated by the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group showed.
A total of 9.8 million Filipinos, meanwhile, are fully vaccinated against the virus.
— Reports from Vivienne Gulla, ABS-CBN News