Some countries require travelers from the Philippines to present upon entry a proof of immunization against poliomyelitis or polio. The most widely accepted document is an International Certificate of Vaccination (ICV) against polio, which you can get from the Bureau of Quarantine (BoQ).
According to the list by the World Health Organization, presented by the Bureau of Quarantine, these states are: Afghanistan, Belize, Brunei Darussalam, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Maldives, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, and Ukraine.
However, this may not be clear cut. For example, Indonesia only needs to see an ICV for polio from Filipino tourists only if they’re staying for at least 4 weeks. Otherwise, there’s no need for one. If you’re traveling to one of the mentioned destinations, we recommend that you contact their embassy here in the Philippines to have confirmed immunization requirements.
Another thing that varies from one country to another is the type of polio vaccine or the combination schedule they require. This is because there are two types of polio vaccines: OPV and IPV.
- Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) is administered orally as drops.
- Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV) is administered through an injection by a trained health worker.
Before you get vaccinated, make sure you’re getting the right type or combination required by the country you will visit.
We have recently secured a polio vaccination certificate from the Bureau of Quarantine here in Manila. Here’s our step-by-step guide based on our own experience.
WHAT'S COVERED IN THIS GUIDE?
1. Be at the Bureau of Quarantine as early as you can.
If you’re getting your ICV here in Manila, here’s the address and contact number:
- Bureau of Quarantine
25th St, Port Area, Manila, 1000 Metro Manila
Phone number: +63 2 5318-7500
- Operating hours:
Although the office officially opens at 8am, show up at the Bureau of Quarantine station early because the lines can get crazy long. You’ll see the queue immediately outside the gate. Find the end of the line and queue up. This line leads to the gate.
We arrived at 7:50 am, but I was already #619 on the queue. I finished just around 11am. According to the staff I talked to, it was actually relatively fast because there were more health workers administering the vaccines at the time.
One of the members of our Facebook Support Group arrived at 5:55am and finished at 2pm!
2. Fill out data forms.
Once you reach the gate, you will be handed two forms:
- Personal info sheet. White paper.
- OPV/IPV Questionnaire and Waiver. Yellow paper.
You will be falling in line again. Accomplish these forms while waiting in line.
Don’t forget to bring a pen!
3. Submit the forms to the screening nurse.
The screening nurse will review your answers to the form by asking them again to you in person. They will ask you about whether you have the following conditions: allergies, autoimmune deficiency conditions, and other medical conditions. They will also ask whether or not you’re undergoing medical treatments like chemotherapy or taking certain medications like steroids.
You need to be honest about all these because it’s for your own safety. The purpose of this stage is to determine whether or not you are fit to receive the vaccine.
Although the queueing can take some time, the actual screening is pretty fast. Ours took only around five minutes.
4. Get vaccinated.
After the screening, you will need to fall in line again. This time, when you reach the end of it, another nurse will administer the vaccine.
The administering nurse will sign the data form.
5. Pay at the cashier.
After receiving the vaccination, proceed to the cashier and settle the P300 fee. There will be another line so be patient.
And don’t forget to get the official receipt.
6. Submit the data form to the encoder.
The staff will collect your accomplished and signed data form. They will also check your official receipt to verify that you have already paid. Once everything looks good, your ICV (polio vaccination certificate) will be prepared.
7. Claim your Polio Vaccination Certificate.
When the ICV is ready, it will be stamped and signed by the Supervising Medical Officer. They can also check for any Adverse Effect Following Vaccination.
That’s it! You can take home the certificate! It’s the yellow card that you will need to present when visiting countries that require it. This is how it looks!
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the countries that require polio vaccination certificate from Filipino travelers?
As of November 19, 2019, these countries require to present proof of polio vaccination, according to the Bureau of Quarantine (based on the list by the World Health Organization):
- Brunei Darussalam
- Saint Kitts and Nevis
- Saudi Arabia
But like I said earlier, this is not cut-and-dried. For example, Indonesia only needs to see an ICV for polio from Filipinos only if they’re staying for at least 4 weeks. Otherwise, there’s no need for one. Our teammate Asta just got back from a week-long trip to Bali and she was never asked for it.
We don’t have the exact details per country. And there has been some confusion about this list. The embassies/consulates of some of these countries here in the Philippines claim that they have not yet received official confirmation from their respective governments. So everything is still a bit murky.
If you’re traveling to one of the mentioned destinations, the safest thing to do is to contact their embassy or consulate here in the Philippines to have confirmed immunization requirements.
How long does the entire process take?
If you’re applying in Manila, it’s hard to say. In our experience, it took 3 hours. We arrived at 7:50 am, but I was already #619 on the queue. I finished around 11am. According to the staff I talked to, it was actually relatively fast because there were more health workers administering the vaccines at the time.
One of the members of our Facebook Support Group had it worse. In her case, it took 8 hours! She arrived at 5:55am and finished at 2pm!
Can I get a polio vaccine certificate from Provincial Quarantine Stations?
I’m not sure if it’s available in ALL of the provincial offices, but I know that it is available in SOME.
One of the members of our Facebook Support Group was able to get a vaccination certificate from the Bureau of Quarantine Station in LA UNION. He said the whole process was over in only 10 minutes.
If you live outside Manila, I recommend that you contact the provincial station near you to confirm if they administer vaccines and issue vaccination certificates there.
What are the addresses and phone numbers of the Provincial Quarantine Stations?
Here are the contact numbers and locations of the provincial stations as listed on the Bureau of Quarantine website. Unfortunately, the landline numbers are not yet updated to the 8-digit format. If contacting a landline, try adding 8 or 7 after the area code.
LUZON PROVINCIAL STATIONS
Laoag International Airport
(07) 771 3714
- San Fernando, La Union
(072) 205 0075
Clark International Airport, Andres Bonifacio Avenue, Angeles, Pampanga
(047) 252 7117
20 Macaraeg Street, West Tapinac, Olongapo City
(047) 252 7117
Unit 5 Penafrancia Building, Kitang Uno, Limay, Bataan
(047) 244 8079
- Batangas City
Batangas Port Access Road, Batangas
(043) 702 3298
Umek Commercial Road, Lucena City
- Tabaco City
Purok 6 Rizal Street, Pier Site, Tabaco City
(052) 742 2851
Port Area, Puerto Princesa City, 5300, Palawan
(048) 433 4001
VISAYAS PROVINCIAL STATIONS
Iloilo City Proper, Iloilo City, 5000 Iloilo
(033) 337 3904
Units 1 and 2 Lucius Inn, Airport Road, Barangay Pook, Kalibo, Aklan
(036) 500 8301
BREDCO Port 2, Reclamation, Barangay 10, Bacolod City
(035) 434 3093
Divine Word Hospital Clinic, Room 74, Avenida Veteranos St., Tacloban City
Gen. Maxilom Avenue Extension, Cebu City
(032) 324 5599
MINDANAO PROVINCIAL STATIONS
Ramon Magsaysay Avenue corner Chaves Street, Davao City
(082) 300 2378
- General Santos City
Makar – Siguel Road, General Santos City, South Cotabato
(083) 522 8376
- Cagayan de Oro
Room 217 Waterside Living Complex, J. Pacana Street, Lico-An, Cagayan de Oro City
(088) 324 0135
- Zamboanga City
2nd Floor Radja Building, Gov. Camins Avenue, Zamboanga City
(062) 991 5019
Photos by Pycan Leynes and Cedric Valera.