Poe tells DOH: ‘Vaccine passports’ should be issued free of charge
MANILA, Philippines — After filing a bill that would authorize the health secretary to issue “vaccine passports” to inoculated Filipino citizens, Senator Grace Poe on Friday urged the Department of Health (DOH) to issue the certificate without any cost to the vaccine beneficiary.
“The certificate as proof of vaccination should be at no cost to the recipient,” Poe said during Friday’s continuation of the Senate hearing into the government’s COVID-19 vaccination program.
“The standard document that our people will carry as their badge of protection that they have been vaccinated should not make them spend extra money because every peso is precious especially during these hard times,” she added.
Poe stressed the importance of the vaccine passport, which she introduced through her Senate Bill No. 1994 or the proposed “Vaccine Passport Act.”
The bill seeks to issue vaccine passports to individuals who have gotten the vaccine, including students, local workers and OFWs.
“The vaccine certificate would be very effective. ‘Pag naghanap ang ating mga kababayan, kabilang na ang mga OFW, ng trabaho at pinakita nila ‘yun, advantage na ‘yan sa kanila,” Poe explained.
(The vaccine certificate would be very effective. “When our countrymen, including OFWs, look for a job and they show it, that is an advantage to them)
“Alam naman natin ‘yun ang kulang sa atin ngayon na kailangan talagang mas dumami ulit ang mga nagtatrabaho,” she added.
(We all know that what we are lacking now is that we really need more workers.)
Poe said that the vaccine passport will also help expedite the return to work of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who were sidelined by the pandemic.
“‘Yung mga OFW natin, kapag aalis sila para magtatrabaho sa ibang bansa, darating ang panahon na magiging requirement na ‘yan—kung ano ang mga bakunang meron ka… May mga iba pang klaseng virus na maaaring lumabas na kailangang magpabakuna tayo. Mauna na tayo,” she explained.
(Our OFWs, when they leave to work abroad, the time will come when the passport will be a requirement — to show what vaccines you have. There are other types of viruses that might come and we need to get vaccinated. Let us be one step ahead.)
“Gawin na natin na meron tayong talaan kung ano ang mga bakuna natin sapagkat marami sa ating mga kababayan ang kailangang pumasok sa eskuwela at magtrabaho,” Poe added.
(Let’s make a record of what our vaccines are because many of our countrymen have to go to school and work.)
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the certificate will indicate the dates of first dose and second dose of the vaccine, among others.
Poe also pointed out that the DOH and relevant agencies should keep an organized record and database of those who have received the vaccine and other relevant information.
Under Poe’s bill, the vaccine record will contain types and purposes of vaccines administered to the holder, the batch numbers the vaccines belong to, dates administered, and the persons and institutions that administered the inoculation.
The bill also includes a provision that prohibits the collection of fees for the issuance, amendment or replacement of a vaccine passport, as well as penalties for offenses for possession of more than one vaccine passport, falsification and forgery.
Other countries like Greece, Denmark and Israel have already initiated the same move as another step to help their economy recover from the pandemic, Poe noted in her bill. Zac Sarao, INQUIRER.net trainee
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