The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) currently has no legal basis in implementing the proposed inclusion of COVID-19 vaccination as a requirement to receive the conditional cash transfers under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps, considering that the program was institutionalized through the passage of Republic Act No. 11310 or the 4Ps Act of 2019.
As stipulated in the law and its Implementing Rules and Regulations, the household-beneficiaries must meet the conditionalities of the program in order to receive the subsidy. These include sending 4Ps beneficiaries’ school-aged children to school, pre- and post-natal care for mothers, regular and preventive check-ups for children aged five and below, deworming for children aged 14 and below, and attendance to the monthly conduct of Family Development Session (FDS).
The Department believes that in order to implement the proposed change or inclusion of other conditionalities, the law has to be amended.
As such, the Department ensured that its beneficiaries will still receive grants and subsidies from 4Ps even without vaccination. Likewise, unvaccinated 4Ps beneficiaries will not be excluded from the program, as the requirement of getting the jab is not yet covered by the 4Ps law or any other legislations.
However, in an effort to support the Philippine government’s vaccination program, the Department continues to conduct information campaigns to encourage its beneficiaries to get inoculated but maintains that vaccination remains voluntary and based on informed decision of the vaccine recipients.
The DSWD continues to coordinate with and assist the Department of Health (DOH) in cascading the necessary and relevant information regarding the vaccination program to help mitigate the wide-reaching effect of COVID-19 pandemic.
4Ps beneficiaries on getting the jab
The 4Ps-National Program Management Office has partnered with the DOH in conducting the Round Table Discussions with 4Ps beneficiaries and parent leaders to guide them in arriving at their informed decisions about the vaccination.
As a result of the survey conducted by DOH in July, the participants, which was composed of 4Ps beneficiaries and parent leaders, perceived COVID-19 vaccines as safe and efficacious.
The same data noted that the 4Ps beneficiaries are eager to get vaccinated, however, they are concerned about the access to the vaccine due to the limited supply, limited internet access for online registration, lack of transportation and missing a day of work causing loss of income among the daily wage earners.
Meanwhile, in a rapid assessment conducted by DSWD from August 16 to October 1, 2021, which used non-probability sampling method among 11,179 4Ps beneficiaries across the country, it was found out that 40% claimed to be willing to get inoculated while only 4.2 % of the total number of respondents were unwilling.
As of October 30, more than 500,000 grantees or more than 13% of the 4Ps total population were already vaccinated against COVID-19.
DSWD on proposed ‘mandatory’ vaccination
The DSWD is committed to the government’s efforts to facilitate more consistent and stronger community-based information campaigns that will help meet the goal of mass vaccination for population protection.
Through the electronic and offline FDS of 4Ps, the importance of COVID-19 vaccination and its benefits are shared and discussed regularly with beneficiaries.
Further, the Department said that it will continue to work closely with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and DOH, being members of the 4Ps National Advisory Council, to address these concerns in collaboration with the local government units. ###