COVID-19

Unified database for jabbed Filipinos sought as domestic travel curbs ease

Dwight de Leon
Unified database for jabbed Filipinos sought as domestic travel curbs ease

JABBED. Blue-collar workers are vaccinated against COVID-19 during the midnight inoculation drive in Manila on July 4, 2021.

Rappler

Local officials push for the proposal amid concerns that COVID-19 vaccination cards can easily be faked

An umbrella organization of all local government leagues in the Philippines is calling for a centralized database for individuals vaccinated against COVID-19, after the national government eased inter-zonal or cross-border travel restrictions.

Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP) president and Quirino Governor Dakila “Dax” Cua said that their proposal will help deter people from faking their vaccination cards so they can easily enter another local government unit (LGU). 

“Ang pinakasimple po ay isang database na readily accessible. Iyon po ang pinaka-useful sa amin na magamit (The simplest way is to create a readily accessible database. That is the most useful for us),” Cua said in an interview with Super Radyo on Friday, July 9. 

Cua added that he raised the suggestion to the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) after he and other ULAP officials were invited to an “urgent” meeting by the Interagency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases on Thursday, July 8.

The meeting was held after LGUs pushed back on a new IATF resolution which said that the presentation of a COVID-19 domestic vaccination card “shall be a [sufficient alternative] to any testing requirement” for travelers entering another province.

ULAP had argued on Wednesday, July 7, that there was no system yet for vaccination card verification.

Following backlash, the health department said that LGUs can still compel fully vaccinated visitors to present a negative COVID-19 test result upon entry.

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Some mayors in Metro Manila, which has the highest number of fully vaccinated individuals, have sought to address fears that fake COVID-19 vaccination cards may soon be rampant.

In Quezon City, the local government unit (LGU) has begun affixing tamper-proof security seals on vaccination cards issued at inoculation hubs for residents and workers who have completed their two COVID-19 vaccine doses.

In a statement, the city government added that it may also stamp security seals to the cards of the 240,000 individuals who received their second dose in the city prior to the rollout of the hologram seal.

“The tamper-proof security seal guarantees that vaccination cards presented for whatever purpose are genuine,” Mayor Joy Belmonte said in a statement on Friday.

“Now that inter-zonal travel for fully vaccinated individuals is being relaxed and more merchants are offering discounts to vaccinated individuals, our goal is to ensure that our [residents] will have easier access to places and services,” she added.

The city government said it will continue the rollout of the security seals until the national government starts its centralized vaccination certification system.

Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, meanwhile, did not rule out the idea of enhancing their vaccination cards, but asserted that the ones they issued are difficult to fake.

“If there will be challenges later, we will innovate,” he told reporters in a Viber group.

Pasay Mayor Emi Calixto-Rubiano backed the proposals for a unified vaccination card among LGUs.

She also noted that the city’s vaccination records were already being linked with the DICT for easier verification. 

“Sa ngayon po ay nagti-train na kami ng mga staff upang sa ganoon ay maisama na sa software system na dini-develop ng DICT ang ating vaccination records,” Rubiano said.

(We are training our staff so that the vaccination records of our people will be included in the software system being developed by the DICT.)

As of Thursday, the Philippines has 3.2 million fully vaccinated individuals out of the 9.4 million people who have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose. – Rappler.com

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Dwight de Leon

Dwight de Leon is a multimedia reporter who covers local government units and the Commission on Elections for Rappler.