Individuals who got inoculated with COVID-19 vaccines still need to follow the national government’s travel protocols, the Department of Health (DOH) said Monday.
DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III said there is no certainty that all vaccinated individuals will be exempted from travel restrictions or protocols set by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).
“We get more data as the vaccines are rolled out or administered to a growing number of individuals, but right now the policy of the IATF based on the recommendation of experts, they will continue to follow on these existing protocols. They will not be exempt just because they have been vaccinated, because as earlier pointed it is not yet clear nor there is sufficient body of evidence that showed the vaccines can actually prevent the transmission,” he told the House Committee on Health, chaired by Quezon 4th District Rep. Angelina “Helen” Tan.
It was Palawan 3rd District Rep. Cyrille “Beng” Abueg-Zaldivar who asked if the vaccinated individuals will later on be exempted from the IATF’s travel protocols or restrictions.
Duque said “the evidence is not sufficient” as to whether the vaccines could prevent transmission.
Dr. Edsel Maurice Salvana of the DOH-Technical Advisory Group (DOH-TAG) cited the need for the country to have a transmission blocking vaccine to warrant the lifting of travel restrictions.
“If we actually have a vaccine that is proven to be 100-percent transmission blocking then anybody who is vaccinated with it should be able to travel freely. They don’t need to wait for everybody kasi hindi ka nakahahawa (because you are not contagious).
“‘Yun talaga ang problem (That is the problem) eh even like for Moderna what evidence we have limited evidence, maybe it prevents two-thirds of a symptomatic infection may one-third pa rin ‘yun so hindi pa tayo makakasigurado (there’s remaining one third, so there is no assurance). Remember it only takes one transmission to start another cluster,” Salvana explained.
“If not necessarily getting everybody vaccinated, it is more important that we have a transmission blocking vaccine which, for now, we don’t have data yet, the DOH official said.