HOUSE Assistant Majority Leader and Quezon City Rep. Precious Hipolito Castelo has filed a bill mandating the issuance of an electronic vaccine card to all fully vaccinated Filipinos to ensure their safe and unimpeded mobility here and abroad.
Castelo’s House Bill (HB) 9957, filed last Wednesday, seeks to amend Republic Act (RA) No. 11525 or the coronavirus disease-19 (COV OD-19) Vaccination Act.
She said the law tasks the Department of Health (DoH) to “maintain a central database of vaccinations and mandate a uniform format for the vaccine card.”
“Unfortunately, the delegation of the printing of vaccine cards to local government units (LGUs) and private entities made it logistically difficult to implement the issuance of uniform vaccine cards throughout the country. For every LGU, there appears to be different format and design for the vaccine cards,” Castelo said.
She said the lack of a uniform vaccination document has already caused a problem for overseas Filipino workers leaving for their jobs in Hong Kong, which has refused to recognize the different local government unit (LGU)-issued cards.
This has prompted an appeal from Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. for Hong Kong authorities to accept the cards, she added.
Castelo pointed out that the absence of a uniform card is also causing problems for domestic travelers, whose destinations find it difficult to check the authenticity of their vaccination documents.
She added that at least one LGU has required fully vaccinated residents to go to designated centers to have a validation sticker attached to their vaccination cards.
“This is an obsolete authentication method that exposes our residents to the virus. We must use all available modern technology to protect our people from COVID-19,” she stressed.
Castelo said her bill would create “a safe and secure database where vaccinated individuals may access their own e-vaccine cards at any time.”
“The e-vaccine cards shall be in uniform format throughout the country, regardless of where the original vaccine cards were issued.
The e-vaccine card will ensure the safe mobility of vaccinated individuals, locally and internationally, and will prevent the proliferation of counterfeit cards since authentication can easily be done through the database,” she said.
The e-card would be available free of charge to fully vaccinated Filipinos and may be used for purposes other than travel, Castelo said.