Tuesday, August 24, 2021

COVID Vaccine in Guam for Filipinos - Air V&V Program (Vacation + Vaccination)

Guam just reached their 80% vaccination target late last week, meaning most restrictions here have been lifted except for a mask mandate and social distancing for children in schools. The government has launched a program they refer to as Air V&V (Vacation & Vaccination) as an attempt for their tourism industry to rebound from this pandemic. The program was originally meant for expats in Southeast Asia who don't have access to vaccines but has since been opened to residents of certain countries including South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, and the Philippines among others. Here is their PH Facebook page:

Air V&V
The government of Guam tied up with certain hotels for the program. People booking via partner hotels need not worry because the partner hotel will take care of everything, from accommodations to administering the vaccine. I am not sure about the availability of rooms in partner hotels because I am staying with a friend but do take note that the Taiwanese have been coming here in droves since July to get vaccinated and the South Koreans began arriving last July 31. Here are the partner hotels:

Dusit Thani Guam Resort
Grand Plaza Hotel
Guam Plaza Resort & Spa
Guam Reef Hotel
Hotel Nikko Guam
Hyatt Regency Guam
Leopalace Resort
Lotte Hotels & Resorts
Pacific Islands Club
Royal Orchid Hotel Guam
The Tsubaki Tower
The Westin Resort Guam

You can click on this link:
Each hotel is listed there with a direct Book Now button to their respective websites.

Booking Your Vaccine Appointment
The program says that your hotel will take care of everything if you book through the hotel website. I cannot vouch for this because I did not book a partner hotel. In any case just to be safe, you can also book yourself a vaccine appointment here: https://airvandv.guamcovid.com/. Click on Visitor > Get Vaccinated Now > First Dose > Next and then fill in all the necessary details, mostly medical history and personal information. You will then be asked to choose if you want Pfizer, Moderna or J&J. You will also be asked to select your hotel from the dropdown list. If your hotel is not a partner hotel or not listed, just choose Other. Once completed, you will be shown a list of eligible clinics or health kiosks near you. Select what is available and then choose a date and specific 15-minute time slot for your appointment. Again, I do not know if the partner hotel will do this on your behalf if you book with them but since there are vaccines aplenty here, there's no need to worry, I guess. Once you complete this booking you will receive a code and the full address of the clinic/health kiosk sent to your email that you have to show on the date of your appointment.

Pre-Travel and Quarantine Restrictions
Guam just lifted their quarantine requirement for inbound passengers as long as you can present a certificate of full vaccination OR a negative PCR Test taken within 72 hours before arrival. Take note that presenting any other negative COVID test that is not a PCR Test (Antigen, etc) might mean getting sent to a government quarantine facility where you will have to stay for 10 days. Good thing about that is they say it's free and you even get free breakfast, lunch, and dinner while there. In my case I presented a negative PCR Test and I was immediately shooed away from Health Check, asking me to just look out for symptoms in the next few days. I had my PCR test done via drive-thru at QR Diagnostics in Las Piñas: https://qrdiagnostics.com.ph/book-now/. I was tested at 11 AM Saturday and got my result via email at 6 PM on the same day. Guam is considered part of the United States by the way, which means the same entry requirements (ESTA or US B1/B2 Visa) apply. It is not visa-free for Philippine passport holders.

Flights to Guam
The Manila - Guam route is basically a duopoly by United and Philippine Airlines, which means ticket prices don't fluctuate that much. Cebu Pacific used to ply the route for cheap but dropped out long ago because of lack of demand. Departure for both airlines is usually at around 11 PM with arrival in Guam at around 4:30 AM. United also has one-stop flights via Koror (Palau), same departure but you add two hours to your arrival time in Guam (around 6:30 AM). PAL currently flies out from NAIA Terminal 2 (small and chaotic); United from NAIA Terminal 3.

On the Day of Appointment
My time slot was 2 PM to 2:15 PM. I arrived at 2:20 PM because there were no taxis available. I was still admitted anyway. This is where I am not sure as to what really happened. I guess I was just panicking because I was late so I forgot to show them my code so maybe they just treated me as a walk-in patient. The girl at the counter just asked for my passport and asked which vaccine I was getting. After that they asked me to pay $200 for two shots of Pfizer. All this time I thought this was supposed to be free. Again, I'm not sure if it's really free and they just asked me to pay because I forgot to show them the code or if you really have to pay even if you are registered and you have the code. In any case, just prepare $200 for two shots if you are getting Pfizer. They accept credit cards. The taxi driver said you can get the vaccine at the University of Guam for free but I don't know if that applies to tourists. After the shot, they give you the CDC vaccine card and they will indicate at the back when your second shot will be if you are getting Pfizer or Moderna. You have to stay at the venue for 15 minutes after the shot for observation just in case you die or turn into a mutant. I would have loved to turn into a mutant so I can join the Marvel Cinematic Universe but the only side effects I had were swollen lymph nodes the day after. I guess there's always next time.

About Guam
Guam is an unincorporated US territory in the Pacific Ocean two time zones ahead of Manila. Along with Puerto Rico and the Philippines, it was ceded to the United States by Spain after the Spanish-American war. That's why it shares a lot of colonial/WW2 heritage as well as geopolitical history with the Philippines. Lots of beaches and diving sites here, well worth the vacation. The primary tourist center is in Tumon, just next to Tamuning, both around 10 minutes away from the airport. Most of the partner hotels for Air V&V are in Tumon.

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