MANILA— The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Saturday said it was possible to enforce the proposed COVID-19 vaccine bubble in parts of the country, which was primarily aimed for economic growth.
In a public briefing, Interior Undersecretary Epimaco Densing said the "temporary" vaccine bubble was among those discussed in a technical working group's meeting on Friday, the guidelines of which has yet to be approved by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on COVID-19 response.
Several sectors have been urging the Philippine government to create vaccine bubbles or separate transportation, dining, and other outdoor systems for fully inoculated individuals.
"Mayroon na pong rekomendasyon at siguro mas maganda pong paabrubahan natin sa IATF principals 'yung ating rekomendasyon bago magkaroon ng final announcement, kung papayagan natin o hindi pansamantala ang vaccine bubble," according to Densing.
(There's a recommendation which is better if approved by our IATF principals before we make an announcement— whether or not to approve the vaccine bubble temporarily.)
"Isa lang ang sigurado natin diyan: matutupad po ito, mangyayari po iyan."
(This is what we are sure about: this will happen and this will be implemented)
Densing did not elaborate.
The Philippines is still struggling to get a hold of COVID-19 vaccine jabs, which was why the country is still implementing an immunization scheme prioritizing the elderly, health workers, economic frontliners, and the poor.
A recent Social Weather Stations survey showed that nearly 3 in 10 Filipinos have problems in accessing vaccination sites.
Video from PTV
Earlier, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned about such bubbles from being established at present, saying it would burst.
"The concept of bubble for vaccinated people doesn't actually hold true because you will continue to be at risk of getting infected," WHO country representative Dr. Rabindra Abeyasingh said last week.
The health department echoed the WHO's sentiments, and said the threat of the more virulent Delta variant would still be present even if an individual is vaccinated from COVID-19.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra had said imposing the “bakuna bubbles” may face legal challenges due to possible discrimination.
The DOJ has also cited the equal protection clause and still limited supply of COVID-19 shots as reasons why vaccine bubbles should not yet be implemented in the Philippines.
Despite this, the National Task Force Against COVID-19 earlier backed the vaccine bubble in Metro Manila but not nationwide.
Of the target 77 million Filipinos, 16.13 million have been fully vaccinated, while over 21.5 million are partially inoculated against the respiratory disease.