By Sandra Cabangon

Amid the reopening of classes for this school year, students and personnel of colleges and universities are no longer required to get vaccinated against COVID-19, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) has announced.

Photo Courtesy of Asian Development Bank/CHED

"Students and higher education institution personnel regardless of vaccination status can now participate in face-to-face classes," CHED Chairperson Prospero de Vera said on August 29.

In a press conference, the chairperson said that the decision to not make vaccination mandatory has been made after seeking the advice of health experts and assessing the Philippines'  COVID-19 situation. They noted that the age group of those concerned is not at high risk for infection of the virus.

“We are changing it because vaccination levels are already high in the higher education institutions, the percentage of at-risk individuals is significantly lower now, and therefore easier to control on the part of our HEIs, and just like in other countries… we have already learned about how other countries have been doing it and applying it, and of course the views of our health experts that those who are at risk do not tend to be the higher education age group,” De Vera stated.

The decision is now left to higher education institutions about whether they will continue implementing the minimum health and safety protocols. However, they are still advised to be careful. 

Special Adviser to CHED Chairperson Dr. Ana Ong-Lim said that students and personnel should observe isolation if they experience symptoms of the virus to avoid further transmission.

“Siguro ‘yung ating old paradigm na pursigido talaga tayong pumasok kahit ano pang nararamdaman natin, hindi na po yan pwede ngayon, dahil pinag-iingatan natin ang sarili natin, pati na rin ang mga kasama sa ating mga paaralan,” she said. 

Subsequently, the Department of Health (DOH) expressed its approval of CHED's new policy in a press release last August 30.

“The DOH fully supports the CHED as it updates its guidelines for full face-to-face classes," DOH Officer-in-Charge Maria Rosario Vergerie affirmed.

Edited by Annika Gorgeana Maningo