Restrict the movement of the unvaccinated nationwide

Published January 6, 2022, 12:05 AM

by Manila Bulletin


The rise has now become a surge. Hundreds of cases became thousands of patients this week. Lines are not only forming outside the emergency room of hospitals as people are also lining up outside the doors of clinics, testing centers, even drugstores. Pharmaceutical firms warn citizens against hoarding drugs for coughs and colds. In a major hospital, most of the patients are teens and children. A hoped for sense of normalcy seems far fetched at this time.

Given these scenarios, this is not a time to panic. Panic would only sow more confusion and would set us back from the progress we have made in the past months. What we need now is a concrete, decisive action from the government to restrict movement, and it starts with the unvaccinated.

An initial proposal is for this to be implemented only in the National Capital Region (NCR), but it is not enough if you refer to the advice of Presidential Adviser on Entrepreneurship Jose “Joey” Ma. Concepcion III, who said that this movement restriction should be done “nationwide.” “This is the way forward,” said Concepcion during the Laging Handa Public Briefing as he urged mayors and governors all over the country to follow the move of NCR mayors to restrict the movement of the unvaccinated.

Warning against a “pandemic of the unvaccinated,” Concepcion said this is one the ways for the country to move from the pandemic stage to the endemic stage, and to “be able to live with the virus and move forward.” “There is a need for greater pressure for the unvaccinated to get their shots to end the pandemic so businesses will thrive. A nationwide mobility restriction on the unvaccinated will protect them – and protect us – from the highly transmissible Omicron variant.” A lawmaker, however, disagreed with this restrictive proposal, saying that even the vaccinated ones could contract the Omicron variant and the unvaccinated’s right to move has to be respected, too. But Concepcion averred this is not the case of depriving their rights, but just “to protect them from getting infected because numbers show that those hospitalized are mostly the unvaccinated.” “We should not overwhelm our country’s health system and the best way to prevent that is to ensure that the unvaccinated stay home because they are most vulnerable, because if they get infected, there is a strong possibility that their health situation can get severe.” Concepcion noted that even if the vaccinated are infected, they already have the protection and their situation is not likely to get serious.

The importance of vaccines could not be more stressed this week. There is no excuse not to get one as LGUs such as Makati are opening their vaccination sites for walk-in residents from other cities. Government has also assured enough supplies that could safely inoculate the kids and teens. Until today, there are still no proven cases of death or drastic side effects from taking the jab.

“If we want to end this pandemic, we have to do our part, get vaccinated,” Concepcion said. Indeed, this is a friendly plea on behalf of humanity. If the unvaccinated still does not want to do his or her part for the world and heed to this emphatic gesture, then restricting their movements is just the start of a long line of sanctions.