Government to issue vaccination passports

Sheila Crisostomo - The Philippine Star
Government to issue vaccination passports
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said the “passport” would “facilitate international cross border travel with stringent health and safety measures in place.”
The STAR / Miguel de Guzman, File

MANILA, Philippines — Individuals vaccinated against COVID-19 would be issued “passports” certifying they are no longer at risk of catching the virus or infecting anyone, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said yesterday.

“I think this will be enforced and when it is widely implemented already, it will be part of protocols to control the borders of each country around the globe,” she said at a press conference.

The document shall indicate if the holder has already received one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine or had
 completed the two doses.

“Each and every vaccinee will have a QR code… This would be something of a unique identifier for specific person that will receive the vaccines,” she added.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said the “passport” would “facilitate international cross border travel with stringent health and safety measures in place.”

“The proposal for a ‘COVID-19 passport’ is welcome and will be looked into by the DOT, together with the Inter-Agency Task Force (for the Management) of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), as it will involve medical data on the vaccines and diplomatic agreements with other countries,” she added.

Tourism Congress of the Philippines (TCP) said earlier the issuance of global COVID-19 passport could boost tourism as it would simplify travel procedures, especially by eliminating the need for testing or quarantine for “passport” carrying travelers.

“Having that information ready, especially with regard to having been vaccinated, can eliminate some of the processes we now have like testing or quarantines upon arrival,” TCP president Jose Clemente III told The STAR.

“That said, we also hope that it is a standardized document regardless of what country the traveler comes from,” he added.

The International Air Transport Association said earlier that it is working to launch the IATA Travel Pass, a global and standardized solution to validate and authenticate all country regulations regarding COVID-19 passenger travel requirements.

The application aims to enable passengers to create a digital passport as well as verify if their test/vaccination meets the regulations, and share test or vaccination certificates with authorities to facilitate travel.

The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has called for a stop to discrimination against unvaccinated travelers, emphasizing that testing should be a departure requirement.

“It will take a significant amount of time to vaccinate the global population, particularly those in less advanced countries, or in different age groups, therefore we should not discriminate against those who wish to travel but have not been vaccinated,” WTTC president and chief executive officer Gloria Guevara said.

“Only a tiny percentage of people around the world have so far received the vaccine, whereas there are vast numbers who have not, but who could be tested, show a negative result and travel safely,” she added. — Catherine Talavera

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