By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — Sen. Grace Poe has urged the Department of Health (DOH) to issue a standard vaccine certificate that should be free of charge to vaccinees to help expedite the return to work of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) sidelined by the pandemic.
“The certificate as proof of vaccination should be at no cost to the recipient,” Poe said on Friday’s continuation of the Senate committee of the whole hearing on 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.
At the Senate hearing, Poe stressed anew the importance of the vaccine passport, which she introduced through her Senate Bill No. 1994 or the “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. Alam naman natin ‘yun ang kulang sa atin ngayon na kailangan talagang mas dumami ulit ang mga nagtatrabaho,” Poe explained.
“‘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. 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 also said.
On Poe’s questioning, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the record will indicate among others, the dates of the first dose and second dose of the vaccine.
She 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 initiated the same move as another step to help their economy recover from the pandemic. (AI/MTVN)