Government will not require workers to get COVID-19 vaccines before returning to the workplace, a top Cabinet official said Thursday as the country rolls out its immunization program.
President Rodrigo Duterte is against mandatory vaccination although Filipinos are encouraged to get jabs once available to protect themselves from the virus, Cabinet Sec. Karlo Nograles said.
"Si Pangulong Duterte has always said na hindi natin ipipilit itong vaccine sa ating kababayan so walang pilitan yan," Nograles said when asked to respond to "no vaccine, no work" rumors.
"Although, syempre, tayo ay laging nananawagan sa ating kababayan at sa nakikita naman po tumataas naman ang kumpiyansa ng ating mga kababayan habang nagro-rollout ng vaccines," he said.
The Philippines this week started distributing Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines to health workers and troops as it rushed to catch up to other nations that have started their mass immunization programs.
A total of 8,559 Filipinos have received their first dose of the jab as of Wednesday, according to Nograles.
COVID-19 vaccine czar Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr. said the government aimed to finish inoculating all of the country's health workers within the month so that it could start distributing jabs to the general public by late April or early May, starting with the elderly and the poor.
The Philippines is expected to receive AstraZeneca vaccines courtesy of the COVAX global facility this week and a million more Sinovac vaccines within the month, officials said.