5-hour long process? How Filipino travelers can get polio vaccine certificate

Jaehwa Bernardo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 19 2019 07:50 PM | Updated as of Nov 19 2019 08:31 PM

Travelers who need an International Certificate of Vaccination (ICV) against polio may acquire the document at the offices of the Bureau of Quarantine.

MANILA – When the news broke that several countries are now requiring Filipino travelers for proof of polio vaccination, seaman Orbin Jo Uayan was advised by his recruitment agency to acquire an International Certificate of Vaccination (ICV) against polio.

Uayan, 24, was among scores of people who lined up for hours on Tuesday morning at the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) office in the Port Area of Manila, where he was administered a dose of inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) and issued an ICV.

Like Uayan, Julieta Formento also went to the BOQ office for an ICV, which she will use for an upcoming travel around Asian countries.

Formento, 56, said he had not checked whether the countries she will be visiting required an ICV but opted to secure the certificate in case it will be asked from her.

At least 19 countries are now requiring Filipino travelers for an ICV, based on a list from the World Health Organization (WHO) shown to ABS-CBN News by the BOQ.

HOW TO GET AN ICV

Michael Sherwin Evangelista, a medical officer at the BOQ, said ICVs are only issued at the BOQ office in Manila and the bureau’s regional offices, such as in Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, and Zamboanga City, among others.

“As for now, dito lang po sa [you can get certificates only at our] Quarantine stations,” he said in an interview.

A sample International Certificate of Vaccination.

Travelers may get vaccinated and acquire an ICV during the bureau’s office hours from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Evangelista advised travelers to contact their destination’s embassy or consulate in the Philippines to inquire about immunization requirements, while overseas Filipino workers were told to coordinate with their agencies.

A traveler may get vaccinated at the BOQ office or through a private doctor, Evangelista explained.

If a traveler opts to get vaccinated through a private doctor, they will be issued a certificate as proof of vaccination which the BOQ will “convert” into an ICV.

The certificate, according to Evangelista, needs to include the names of the patient and doctor that administered the vaccine, and the brand name and lot number of the vaccine.

A medical personnel from the Bureau of Quarantine prepares an injectible Inactivated polio vaccine.

Travelers who plan to get vaccinated at the BOQ compound in Manila – which has 5 vaccination sites – are first required to fill out a form about their medical history.

“[The form is] designed to explore your medical history, any allergies or any contraindication sa polio vaccine naming [to our polio vaccine],” Evangelista said.

After filling out the form, travelers will be screened by doctors.

Once screened, the travelers will be administered IPV, an injectable vaccine, followed by an observation period of around 5 to 15 minutes in case of any allergic reactions, according to Evangelista.

After vaccination, the traveler will pay P300 for the ICV, which has a lifetime validity.

The entire process takes about 2 to 3 hours, according to Evangelista, but people applying for the certificates told ABS-CBN News that the process took them up to 5 hours.

“It’s just the volume that we are dealing with ngayon, kasi dumami bigla,” said Evangelista.

People line up outside one of the polio vaccination site inside the Bureau of Quarantine's compound in Manila.

Priority is given to pregnant women, senior citizens, persons with disability, and travelers whose flights are on the same day.

The number of polio vaccinations at the BOQ increased to over 2,000 per day from 200 per day in just 2 weeks, BOQ records showed. 

On Monday, Nov. 18, the BOQ administered IPV to 2,095 persons, based on records.

Evangelista appealed to the public “to be patient and be considerate of the long lines” that they may have to endure.

In September, the Department of Health confirmed the first polio case in the Philippines, 19 years after the WHO declared the country free from the debilitating disease.