The World Health Organization (WHO) is still not supporting the mandatory vaccination against coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) and the reimplementation of the face shield policy amid the rising threat of the more infectious Omicron variant. 

“WHO has always taken the stance that we are not mandating vaccines. People should be free to decide what’s best for them but we have strongly advocated that people, particularly people at risk, are prioritized and provided with vaccines,” Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, WHO representative to the Philippines, said in a government briefing.

Abeyasinghe stressed the importance of social distancing, wearing of face masks, and hand hygiene instead of using face shields. 

“If we can ensure that those…minimum public health measures are complied with, if we can ensure that people don’t congregate in closed settings, the requirement for face shields probably at this point of time is not mandatory because as I said, we are still looking at and understanding the transmission dynamics of the Omicron variant,” the WHO official said.

While the Department of Health stressed that face shields “provide another layer of protection” against Covid-19, the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) does not recommend the use of face shields. 

“Face shields have large gaps below and alongside the face, where your respiratory droplets may escape and reach others around you and will not protect you from respiratory droplets from others,” the US CDC said.

Acting presidential spokesperson Karlo Nograles said that a law must be passed to make Covid-19 vaccination mandatory in the Philippines. 

Face shields are only required in places under Alert Level 5. Meanwhile, areas under Alert Level 4 may be required to wear them depending on the mandate of local government and establishments. – Ronald Espartinez