MANILA — The inter-agency task force leading the country's COVID-19 response said on Friday it approved the mandatory vaccination of eligible on-site workers starting December.
"In areas where there are sufficient supplies of COVID-19 vaccines, COVID-19 vaccination of eligible employees tasked to do on-site work shall be required by all establishments and employers in the public and private sector," said Palace spokesman Harry Roque.
"However, eligible employees who remain to be unvaccinated may not be terminated but they shall be required to undergo regular RT-PCR testing, or antigen tests, at their own expense," he said in a statement.
He said these measures, which are meant to "increase demand for COVID-19 vaccination," would take effect on Dec. 1.
Video courtesy of PTV
Roque said eligible workers of the public transportation sector should also be fully vaccinated for their operations to continue.
He said public and private establishments "may validly refuse entry and/or deny service to individuals who remain to be unvaccinated, or are merely partially vaccinated, despite being eligible for vaccination."
"Frontline and emergency services, on the other hand, shall continue to render assistance to all persons, regardless of vaccination status," he added.
Roque said local governments "are strongly enjoined" to issue orders or ordinances providing incentives for fully vaccinated individuals, and for business establishments to require proof of inoculation before individuals could undertake or qualify for certain activities.
Further, all workers who will get vaccinated during work hours "shall not be considered absent upon sufficient proof of a confirmed vaccination schedule," he said.
"Accordingly, only the presentation of a medical clearance issued by a government health office, or birth certificate, as the case may be, shall serve as sufficient and valid proof of ineligibility for vaccination," continued the Palace official.
He said all state agencies are urged to "implement measures prioritizing fully vaccinated individuals availing of government programs and services."
The Philippines has so far fully immunized 30.8 million of its 109 million population.
The Department of Health last week expressed support for a proposal to make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for specific at-risk sectors.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire noted that a law must be passed that would make this a strict requirement.
"Pero ito last resort naman ito ng government dahil gusto na po nating ma-achieve 'yung proteksyon ng populasyon," she said in a press briefing.
(But this is a last resort of the government because we want to achieve population protection.)
"Government has the authority dahil nakikita natin hindi natin maa-achieve 'yung (because we are seeing that we will not achieve) protection for the population if part of the population will not receive the vaccines," she added.