The Department of the Interior and Local Government said Thursday it would study giving consideration to those who recently received AstraZeneca coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) jabs in the implementation of the “no vaccination, no ride”‘ policy.
“Since November to December last year, we have had a lot of vaccines, different brands but nonetheless, this is also a valid concern and we will raise this again to (sic) the other agencies—DOTr (Department of Transportation) and DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment)—so that we can come up with the policy with them,” DILG spokesperson Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said in a television interview.
This as the government implemented a 30-day grace period for unvaccinated and partially vaccinated workers to ride public transport in Metro Manila starting Wednesday.
However, only fully vaccinated individuals will be allowed in public transport in the region starting February 26.
Given this timeframe, those who were recently inoculated with AstraZeneca jabs as their first dose would have to wait for four to 12 weeks before getting their second dose, much longer than the 28 to 30 days interval of other vaccine brands.
Malaya, meanwhile, advised those who remain unvaccinated to choose from other brands aside from AstraZeneca as much as possible.
“They must request their LGUs to vaccinate them with another brand of COVID-19 vaccine which will allow them to be vaccinated 30 days later so that they will not fall under this problem because if they are injected with AstraZeneca, definitely, they will not be fully vaccinated [once the 30-day window ends],” Malaya said.
He is also hoping that this will no longer be a problem as more supplies of various Covid-19 vaccine brands are now available in the country.
Malaya added the “no vax, no ride” policy could no longer be delayed, hence the decision to come up with a 30-day grace period for the unvaccinated and those partially vaccinated.
“The rationale from the very beginning has always been two things, the first is to protect the unvaccinated themselves and the second is to protect the healthcare system from being overwhelmed,” he added.
He also clarified that the “no vax, no ride’’ policy would only be implemented under Alert Level 3.
Earlier on Wednesday, the government said that unvaccinated and partially vaccinated workers could continue riding public transportation in Metro Manila for 30 days starting Jan. 26, after which they must comply with the “no vaccination, no ride” policy.
The DOTr announcement appeared to contradict Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III’s declaration a week earlier that unvaccinated workers were exempted from the policy because they provide “essential services.”
But Transportation Undersecretary Artemio Tuazon Jr., the department’s official representative to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), said the policy was in place to protect unvaccinated and partially vaccinated workers from developing severe COVID-19 infections.
“Data show that workers who remain unvaccinated against the virus that causes COVID-19 are more vulnerable to severe and critical
infections,” Tuazon said.
Tuazon had said that 30 days following the announcement of the new protocol, only workers in the NCR who are fully vaccinated (those who have completed the two-dose primary series vaccination or the one-dose vaccination will be allowed to use public transportation.