MANILA — The Department of Health said Tuesday it "fully supports" the Commission on Higher Education's updated COVID-19 guidelines for full in-person classes in colleges and universities.
According to the health department, CHED consulted the DOH and its experts on allowing students and HEI personnel to participate in face-to-face classes regardless of vaccination status.
"Our COVID-19 response is dynamic, and always follows the latest scientific recommendations available. The benefits of in-person and face-to-face schooling now outweigh the risk of COVID-19 infections," DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a statement.
She noted that in-person learning boosts academic performance, improves mental health and well-being, and helps develop social engagement skills.
"Even as proof of vaccination is no longer needed, vaccination and boosters for all eligible individuals is still strongly recommended. Let us keep the wall of immunity strong," Vergeire added.
CHED announced on Monday it lifted the vaccine requirement for students and personnel attending in-person classes in higher education institutions.
The commission reported that around 3.1 million or 77 percent of college students have been either partially or fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Meanwhile, 260,661 or 90 percent of HEI personnel received partial or full COVID-19 vaccination.
Latest DOH data showed that 18 to 25-year-olds logged fewer COVID-19 infections compared to other age groups. Other studies also revealed that omicron and its sub-variants had lower fatality or severity of disease.
According to the DOH, the Philippines joins at least 5 other countries "in giving more weight on the value of in-person and face-to-face higher education".
The move is supported by the global community, including the World Health Organization and United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund, the agency said.
The following countries have removed vaccine requirement for HEI students and personnel.
- United Kingdom (but strongly encouraged)
- Canada (strongly recommended for congregate student-living settings)
- New Zealand
- Singapore (but unvaccinated students require biweekly testing for indoor dining)
To date, some 72.4 million people have been fully vaccinated against the respiratory disease in the Philippines, of whom 17.8 million have received their booster shots.