The Philippines will now require foreign countries and employers to ensure that those they’re hiring would be vaccinated against COVID-19 before they are cleared for work deployment.
Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) chief Bernard Olalia explained that what this new policy means is that OFWs would not be cleared for work unless the host country or their foreign employer ensures that they would be inoculated against COVID-19.
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Olalia said that it has been the agency’s existing policy, and they would not allow OFWs to be deployed if they are not included in the priority vaccination program of their receiving countries, the Philippine Star reported.
“One of the mandates of POEA is to promote the welfare and protect the rights of our OFWs,” Olalia said of POEA’s commitment to ensure that OFWs are prioritized for protection against the coronavirus.
The POEA chief cited Israel for agreeing to include the 400 Filipino caregivers it is hiring in its COVID-19 vaccination program upon their arrival there.
Olalia said that the policy also applies to other skills like nurses who are prioritized in the vaccination program of other countries where they would serve there as frontliners.
He cited the United Arab Emirates, which has already agreed to vaccinate all Filipino household service workers to be deployed there.
So far, no country or employer has rejected the new policy, which is also being implemented for the protection of foreign employers and their colleagues.
“It’s not just for the safety of our OFWs, but also for the safety of their employers with whom they would mingle in their workplaces,” he explained.
As to how this policy will be executed, Olalia noted that OFWs should ideally be vaccinated prior to deployment. However, if vaccines are not available here, they will have to be vaccinated in their destination country.
Moreover, the government is looking to including OFWs in the list of priority groups to be vaccinated in the country.
According to the data shared by the different Philippine Overseas Labor Offices, close to 16,000 OFWs worldwide have been infected with COVID-19. Of this number, close to a thousand have succumbed to the infection.