On Friday (May 28), the Department of Health (DOH) announced that it’s currently studying a proposal to allow fully vaccinated people to forego the use of masks. 

However, the health agency’s Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said full vaccinations will not be the lone basis for the decision, noting the current COVID-19 infection number and healthcare utilization rate will also be significant factors.

“Ang ginagawa natin, tayo po ay nag-aaral na nitong sinasabing rekomendasyon na ito para makita natin if we can also apply this in specific bubbles. Pag-aaralan ho ito ng ating mga experto together with the IATF at magbibigay po tayo ng impormasyon,” Vergeire said during a virtual briefing. 

“Meron ho tayong mga kinukunsidera para tayo ay makapag-lift ng mga ganitong restrictions… Halimbawa po, magtatanggal tayo ng mga mask sa mga nabakunahan na sa NCR for example, kailangan natin tignan ano na nga ba ang estado ng mga kaso dito sa NCR. Ang healthcare utilization rate po ba ay nakakaluwag-luwag na tayo?” she explained further.

In the US, the government has already lifted mask protocols for two weeks, this comes after the country gave full vaccine shots to 45.1 percent of its total population. 

According to Vergeire, the Philippines’ situation is too different from the US. 

At present, the Duterte administration has only achieved full vaccinations for a little over a million Filipinos, which accounts for 1 percent of the country’s total population of 110 million.

“Kung sa Estados Unidos po ay nagkaroon sila ng polisiya na pwede nang hindi mag-mask kapag nasa labas, tayo po dito, hindi pa rin po natin ‘yan makonsidera kasi ‘yung rate ng vaccination natin, hindi naman pareho doon sa Estados Unidos,” Vergeire stressed. 

“Mahirap po tayong magkumpara sa ibang bansa sa estado natin ngayon,” she added.

At the moment, The government’s vaccine rollout is still limited to the A1, A2, and A3 brackets – composed of frontline health workers, senior citizens, and persons with comorbidity.

However, the government will be extending the rollout to the A4 bracket, consisting of essential workers.

The government’s rollout has now reached an average of 170,844 daily vaccinations. 

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