If you’re the proud owner of a vaccination card that shows you’ve already gotten the required doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine here in the country, and you’ve been busy making travel plans these past few days, a word of caution: It looks like you still need to include swab testing on your pre-travel checklist.
In a TeleRadyo interview on Wednesday, July 7, Secretary Francisco Duque III of the Department of Health (DOH) said that the policy to remove the swab-testing requirement for fully-vaccinated individuals—which was announced a few days ago via Resolution No. 124-B of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF)—must still be discussed with local government units (LGUs) because it presents “operational challenges and difficulties.”
Under Resolution No. 124-B, an individual is considered fully-vaccinated after two weeks of receiving the full dose of a single- or two-dose COVID-19 vaccine. His vaccine card shall then suffice as an alternative to a negative swab-test result that is a pre-travel requirement for intrazonal (movement across areas placed under the same community quarantine classification) or interzonal (movement across areas under different community quarantine classifications) travel.
According to Duque, some local government leaders have raised their concerns about the verification of vaccination cards, the format of which isn’t standard across the country.
“Yung sistema kasi natin sa ngayon ay parang good faith lang muna,” Duque said, acknowledging the possible emergence of fake vaccination cards. He added that on July 8, there will be a meeting with local government leaders to discuss how Resolution No. 124-B could be properly implemented.
“Bago niyan, ang dati nating resolution ay meron tayong testing... Sa ngayon, ibabalik muna natin doon hangga’t sa maayos natin bukas, matapos ang usapin kung kinakailangan amiyendahan pa itong Resolution No. 124-B,” he said.
The official added that the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) is working on a ‘vaccine management information system.’ This will act as a central database for the verification of vaccination status within the country, and may be shared with other countries in the future should international certification processes be put in place for travel.
We’ll give you more updates as we get them. Another reminder: As mentioned by IATF adviser and infectious disease specialist Dr. Tony Leachon in a Facebook post, Resolution No. 124-B “is silent on quarantine and post-arrival testing which remains the purview of the LGU.” So, even if the pre-travel swab-testing requirement is dropped for fully-vaccinated individuals, you still need to check with the local government of your destination what the entry protocol and requirements are upon getting there.
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