DOH official: COVID-19 vaccination ‘purely voluntary’ amid bid to make it mandatory
MANILA, Philippines — An individual has the right to decide whether or not they will receive a COVID-19 vaccine, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said Monday amid a proposal to make vaccination against the coronavirus mandatory.
“It is the right of a person to decide on his own if he shall receive or will not receive the vaccine,” Vergeire said in a media forum held by the Department of Health (DOH) when asked about a House bill seeking to mandate COVID-19 vaccination to eligible citizens.
According to Vergeire, top officials have previously discussed whether or not the COVID-19 vaccination would be made mandatory or just voluntary prior to the government’s inoculation roll out in March this year.
“The decision was based from the principles that we adhere to, based on WHO (World Health Organization) end-stage recommendations that this should purely be voluntary,” she said.
While citizens have a moral obligation to get vaccinated for the welfare of their loved ones, communities, and the Philippine population, Vergeire said the public cannot be mandated to receive the COVID-19 vaccine since the available jabs are still in the developmental stage.
“Alam po natin na meron pong obligation ang bawat kababayan natin, this is what we call moral obligation na kung tayo’y magpapabakuna, hindi lang po yung sarili natin ang iisipin natin kung hindi yung mga mahal natin sa buhay, community, and the whole population because we want to achieve herd immunity,” Vergeire said.
(We know that each of us has an obligation, this is what we call a moral obligation that when we opt to get vaccinated, this is not only for our protection but also for our loved ones, our community, and the whole population because we want to achieve herd immunity.)
“But at this stage, or this period of the phase where these vaccines are still at that developmental stage, we cannot mandate people to accept these vaccines because it is still not really completed yet,” she added.
Currently, available COVID-19 vaccines are being administered to the public only under an emergency use authorization.
“Ang sa atin pong ina-adhere na prinsipyo ngayon (For us, the principle we are adhering to is that) the benefits outweigh the risks that’s why we are offering to our population,” the DOH official went on.
“But it would their right to decide kung sila ay tatanggap o hindi tatanggap nito, base sa pagkakapaliwanag po natin sa kanila (if they will accept the vaccine or not based on how we informed them about it),” she added.
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