Vaccination and discrimination

Published March 4, 2021, 12:19 AM

by Senator Francis Tolentino


Senator Francis N. Tolentino

Last week, President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law Republic Act No. 11525, the “COVID-19 Vaccination Program Act of 2021,” which formally launched the country’s national immunization campaign against the dreaded 2019 novel coronavirus disease.

To spare Filipinos from additional burden, Section 12 of RA 11525 gives every Filipino an assurance that vaccine cards to be issued by local government units (LGUs) to their inoculated constituents “shall not be considered as an additional mandatory requirement for education, employment, and other similar government transactions.”

The provision which was introduced during the period of amendments in the Senate seeks to safeguard students, regular employees, OFWs, and others from discrimination resulting from non-inoculation.

In guarding against possible prejudicial acts, Section 12 of the COVID-19 Vaccination Program Act gives an assurance to all Filipinos that coronavirus vaccination should be made a precondition for entitlement to necessary services or a basis for preferential acts.

The new law states that inoculation is not determinant is fit or unfit for work. This will allay the fears brought up by organized labor groups, especially those who are opposing the adoption of a “no vaccine, no work” policy.

In the United States, President Joe Biden recently announced that “it would not be necessary to make a coronavirus vaccine mandatory,” as reported by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), also said that he would “definitely not” support a nationwide mandate of the COVID-19 vaccination across the entire United States.

US-based think-tank firm Pew Research says only just 60 percent of Americans are currently prepared to take a coronavirus vaccine.

Here in the Philippines, only 19 percent of adult Filipinos are willing to get vaccinated against COVID-19, based on a survey conducted by the OCTA Research Group last February, while about 46 percent are unwilling even if a safe and effective vaccine is available based on the same study.

Considering that inoculation is not legislated as mandatory in the country, the safeguard section of the new law is fair and just.