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Bakuna bubble discriminatory—SOJ Guevarra

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The private sector’s proposed “bakuna bubbles” is discriminatory and violative of the Constitution’s equal protection clause, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Sunday.

The justice chief said imposing the proposal to segregate those fully vaccinated against Covic-19 from the unvaccinated might face a legal challenge for discriminatory treatment.

“If the proposal is implemented at this time, it can be challenged legally for being discriminatory,” he said.

The private sector suggested the “bakuna bubbles” to protect the vaccinated and unvaccinated while encouraging the unvaccinated to get inoculated. The suggestion also aims to help boost the economy. But Guevarra argued the proposal is untimely because the vaccines are not yet available in some areas.

He said although the sentiment to get vaccinated shifted in favor, many areas do not have access, so it is not their fault if there are still unvaccinated people. It would be unfair for the unvaccinated if they will be discriminated against because of it.

The justice chief pointed out that vaccination is still not mandatory yet, but authorities are imposing minimum health protocols, including wearing masks, social distancing, face shields, etc.

“Right now, we are still vaccinating A4. This means only up to economic frontliners. The general population, based on the order of priority, is not yet included in the current rollout,” said Guevarra.

He added some people have valid medical reasons that prevent them from getting vaccinated, such as allergies and contraindications.

At present, the government follows the order of priorities in its vaccination program. This puts healthcare workers first (A1), senior citizens second (A2), and persons with co-morbidities third (A3).

However, the justice chief said when we reached the stage when vaccines are available to everyone, and there is no reason to refuse the medicine except for medical reasons, then the segregation proposal could be revisited.

Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Jose Ma. “Joey” Concepcion III earlier raised the need to restrict the movement of unvaccinated individuals and impose bubbles for the fully vaccinated.

Concepcion said the government should look into “bold moves” such as restricting the unvaccinated population from entering and eating at certain establishments or moving around the country.

Although supportive of the “vaccine bubbles” proposal, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chairman Benhur Abalos Jr. said more study and a vaccination target for the country’s population are needed before enforcing such policy.

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