MANILA—The government is eyeing to give incentives and privileges to Filipinos fully inoculated against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), National Task Force (NTF) Against Covid-19 chief implementer, Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr., said as the vaccination of the economic front-liners formally kicked off on Monday.
"Nakikita natin sa ibang bansa na binibigyan ng leeway yung mga nabakunahan na, especially yung mga elder (We see in other countries, they are giving leeway to those who are already vaccinated, especially the elderly)," Galvez said in a press briefing with Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque after the symbolic vaccination of 50 essential workers at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Citing a similar situation in Israel, Galvez said all vaccinated senior citizens in the area can now freely roam around in public places, while those unvaccinated ones are not allowed to go outside their homes.
Galvez said other countries are already initiating various strategies just to encourage more of their population to get vaccinated.
"In order to motivate our seniors and also our people with comorbidities, kailangan talaga bigyan natin ng konting (we need to give them a little) leeway," he said.
Galvez said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) is eyeing to provide some privileges and incentives to the vaccinated individuals.
"We are considering to give some sort of opening of restrictions to those persons who will be vaccinated, especially the quarantine protocols when they return from abroad," he said.
Meanwhile, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the vaccine expert panel and the technical advisory group of experts are yet to study on easing of restrictions for those who are fully vaccinated.
"Kasi ang pakay natin sa bandang huli ay magkaroon po ng increased mobility ang mga tao po na nakakumpleto ng kanilang mga bakuna (Because our end goal here is to have an increased mobility those people who have already completed their vaccine doses)," Duque said.
As the government plans to give incentives to fully vaccinated individuals, Duque said effective methods to prevent Covid-19 transmission should still be observed such as wearing face masks and face shields as well as observing physical distancing.
Duque said people should still adhere to the minimum health protocols as "there is no evidence yet" that vaccination can completely stop people from being infected with the virus.
"Kailangang ito po ay ituloy natin dahil hindi pa rin sapat ang datos para sabihin natin na kapagka nabakunahan ang isang tao ay talagang hindi po siya pwedeng mahawaan at makapanghawa pa (We need to continue doing this because there's not enough data to say that once a person is vaccinated, he would not be able to get infected or infect others anymore)," he said.
The vaccine experts worldwide are still collating additional data on this matter and continue to do daily monitoring on developments of vaccination, particularly in countries that have already inoculated more than 50 percent of the respective population, he added.
Israel health experts
Galvez also said health experts from Israel will visit the Philippines on June 20 to help in improving the country's vaccination program including vaccine deployment, addressing vaccine hesitancy, and transitioning to the new normal.
Galvez said the country may adopt some of Israel's interventions on increasing public uptake on the Covid-19 vaccine rollout.
"In the experience of Israel, there are some data showed that the vaccination really works—that means the vaccines they used were effective. And then it creates a lot of hope for us, just in case we will have a massive vaccination or get the threshold as mentioned by Sec. Duque—the population protection, it could greatly contribute to the gradual opening of restrictions, at the same time increase mobility so that we can open up our economy," Galvez said.
Easing pandemic restrictions could be possible once the country would be able to vaccinate majority of the Philippines' population, he added.
As of June 6, the Philippines has already administered a total of 5,965,651 doses of Covid-19 jab, of which 4,421,319 doses were inoculated as first shot and 1,544,332 doses for the final and second dose.
For the past seven days, the country has administered a daily average of 112,621 vaccines. (PNA)