DOH, WHO: Not yet time for ‘bakuna bubbles’
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) and the World Health Organization (WHO) believe now is not the time for the proposed “bakuna bubbles” considering the still low vaccine coverage in the country.
In a press briefing on Tuesday, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that the DOH is not closing its doors on such a proposal but added that it cannot be implemented yet due to limited vaccine supply.
“Sa ngayon pinag-aaralan ‘yan at hindi po namin isasara ‘yung pintuan namin sa ganyang usapin. Dadating po tayo sa punto na ‘yan (We are studying that and we are not closing our doors on such talks. We will arrive at that stage) once supplies are stable, once vaccine coverage has improved already, not just here in NCR but also in other regions and once our cases are already manageable,” she said.
“Pero sa ngayon po sa tingin namin hindi pa natin pwedeng ipatupad ‘yan base sa Department of Health analysis (But now we think this cannot be implemented yet based on analysis of the DOH),” she added.
Vergeire noted that dine-in services are mostly located in indoor facilities where coronavirus transmission is more likely even for the vaccinated.
Meanwhile, WHO country representative Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe stressed that COVID-19 shots do not ensure that vaccinated people will not be infected. He reiterated that vaccines offer protection against the severe form of the disease.
“The concept of bubbles for vaccinated people does not actually hold true because you will continue to be at risk of getting infected, and if you are infected you could infect other people,” he said. “The bubble will not hold. It will burst so we don’t advocate for vaccine bubble at this point in time.”
The concept of “bakuna bubble” was earlier floated by Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion. He said this was to revitalize the country’s ailing economy.
The proposal covers allowing malls to accept both the vaccinated and unvaccinated but individual shops within malls like restaurants, salons and gyms will allow vaccinated individuals to enter if they present a vaccination card, while the unvaccinated may enter if they will present a negative test result.
Concepcion also earlier said he was exploring with the Department of Transportation the possibility of deploying buses for fully vaccinated passengers “to protect them from getting infected by the unvaccinated ones.”
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