DOH: Vaccinated people still need to follow travel protocols

Deapartment of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said persons who may have already been inoculated with the Covid-19 vaccine would still need to heed and follow the government’s travel protocols,

At a recent House Health Committee hearing into the government’s Covid-19 vaccination plan, Duque said vaccinated individuals may not be exempted yet from travel protocols since there is no sufficient evidence showing that the available Covid-19 vaccines can prevent the transmission of the virus.

“They will continue to follow existing protocols. They will not be exempt just because they have already been vaccinated, since as earlier pointed out, it is not yet clear if there is sufficient evidence to show that the vaccines can actually prevent transmission,” he said.

Infectious disease expert Dr. Edsel Salvaña said there is no existing Covid-19 vaccine that can prevent transmission at this point. He assired that AstraZeneca, Sinovac, and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines can prevent  severe disease 100%, while Pfizer’s prevention rate stands at 89%.

He stressed that the most important part of the vaccination program is the prevention of severe disease and save the vulnerable population. The government is set to launch a nationwide program against Covid-19 and  aims to establish a sustainable and fully integrated vaccine deployment and immunization program against the virus.

The program will employ the whole-of-nation and whole-of-society approach to the crisis in collaboration with national government agencies, local government units and the private sector. Some LGUs have already earmarked funds for the Covid-19 vaccination of their constituents.

Quezon Rep. Angelina Tan, House Health panel chair, stressed the need to expedite the Covid-19 immunization program as well as ensure that it is safe and effective and that all concerned agencies are on the same boat.

“We cannot afford to make mistakes at this critical juncture in our fight against the pandemic. We have to be on time for the Covid-19 inoculation drive. We need the vaccine rollout to be ready without compromising its safety and efficacy to build the trust and confidence of the public,” Tan said.

Duque said the vaccine roadmap seeks to promote safe, equitable and cost-effective immunization of Filipinos; full recovery of the economy and normalcy of the lives of the people; and sustainable public immunization for the next three to five years.

He said the country may reach herd immunity within the year if there is enough global supply of Covid-19 vaccines the country can access and utilize.

National Policy Against Covid-19 chief and Vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said areas with high rates of Covid-19 cases such as Metro Manila, Metro Cebu and Davao will be given priority for the vaccination rollout where 24,668,128 sectoral priorities have been selected as follows: 1,762,994 frontline health workers; 3,789,874 indigent senior citizens; 5,678,544 remaining senior citizens; 12,911,193 remaining indigent population; and 525,523 uniformed personnel. Their total accounts for more than 22% of the country’s population of 108.8 million.

Galvez said those who will be vaccinated also include teachers and social workers in the public and private sectors, followed by all remaining government workers; essential workers in agriculture, the food industry, transportation and tourism; socio-demographic groups in significantly higher risk areas other than senior citizens and indigent population such as those persons deprived of liberty, persons with disabilities, and Filipinos living in high-density areas; overseas Filipino workers; other remaining workforce; and other Filipinos.

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