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DOH objects to ‘vaccine passes’ for access to indoor establishments

/ 01:58 PM May 14, 2021
DOH on vaccination program in the Philippines

FILE PHOTO: A woman holds a small bottle labeled with a “Coronavirus COVID-19 Vaccine” sticker and a medical syringe in this illustration taken October 30, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) is not in favor of providing “vaccine passes” to individuals already vaccinated against COVID-19 for access to certain indoor establishments, opposing the recommendation reportedly being pushed by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and some members of the private sector.

“Hindi po. Hindi po kami sang-ayon sa ganyang pagpapalakad, o kaya magkakaroon tayo ng ganyang mga proseso,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in an online press briefing on Friday when asked if the DOH agrees with the suggestion to create vaccine passes for such purpose.

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(No. We do not agree with that kind of system or process.)

Vergeire said there is no sufficient evidence yet to say that a person who had received two doses of the vaccine can no longer get sick and infect other people.

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She added that initial studies have shown that the currently available vaccines cannot adequately block virus transmission, and that the sure benefit from the vaccines as of now are reduced risk for severe infection and hospitalization.

“As to preventing mild to moderate infections, hindi pa rin tayo nagbibigay ng ganyang assurance sa mga kababayan natin (we are not giving that assurance yet to the public),” said Vergeire.

“Kaya sa ngayon, even if you are fully vaccinated, meaning you have completed two doses, kailangan pa rin natin magpatupad ng minimum health protocols, at itong sinasabing vaccine pass ay hindi pa rin mairerekomenda ng Kagawaran ng Kalusugan,” she added.

(Right now, if you are fully vaccinated, meaning you have completed two doses, you still need to follow minimum health protocols. The DOH cannot recommend this issuance of vaccine passes yet.)

In a text message to INQUIRER.net, Secretary Ramon Lopez said the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has no plan to issue vaccine passes that will guarantee access to certain establishments. He said the DTI is studying proposals from business groups regarding the perks that could be granted by certain private establishments to individuals vaccinated against COVID-19.

“Whatever policy, it will NOT be mandatory, such as barring entry if unvaccinated. But, if ever, one that can avail of some benefits offered by private establishments such as discounts, so as to encourage the population to get vaccinated so we can achieve herd immunity and reopen more the economy and bring back jobs to the jobless,” he said.

In January, Vergeire said the government will issue vaccine passports to those already vaccinated against COVID-19 but not for the purpose of having access to indoor establishments. She said the issuance of vaccine passports, once it is widely implemented, could be part of protocols for border control in different countries.

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TAGS: coronavirus Philippines, Department of Health, Department of Trade and Industry, Indoor Dining, vaccine passes
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