Eight hospitals have so far been designated for the first phase of pediatric vaccination from Oct. 15 to 30 as Malacañang on Wednesday urged young people, especially students, to get inoculated against COVID-19 to protect them once face-to-face classes resume. The eight hospitals are the National Children’s Hospital, Philippine Heart Center, Pasig City Children’s Hospital, Fe Del Mundo Medical Center, Philippine General Hospital, Makati Medical Center, St. Luke’s Medical Center in Taguig, and the Philippine Children’s Medical Center. The vaccine rollout in hospitals will begin with the 15-17 age group followed by minors aged 12-14. Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said vaccinating the students is very important to ensure their safety when they attend in-person classes. “The vaccine is very important. This is the key to returning to normal life. This is the key to the resumption of face-to-face classrooms in colleges and universities,” Roque said during the ceremonial vaccination of tertiary students at Mabalacat City College in Pampanga City. The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) has authorized 181 schools to conduct face-to-face classes starting Nov. 15. CHED chairman J. Prospero de Vera III urged college students to get vaccinated against COVID-19, saying vaccination is one of the factors for the low infection rate among the first batch of students who attended in-person classes for medicine and health science degree programs. About 1,500 students were inoculated during the “Padyak! Para sa Flexible Learning, Sama-Samang Vaccination Program” at the Mabalacat City College. The program aims to encourage more students and higher education personnel to get inoculated against COVID-19. Roque lauded the newly vaccinated students for heeding the government’s call to participate in the immunization campaign against the coronavirus. The Philippines has cleared the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for emergency use among minors as young as 12. The country has enough vaccine doses to inoculate roughly 1.2 million adolescents with comorbidities, 144,123 of whom are in Metro Manila, the chief implementer of the National Task Force Against COVID-19, Secretary Carlito Galvez, said Wednesday. The Philippines expects the delivery of about 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of the month, with the government aiming to vaccinate at least 90 percent of the country’s population by February 2022 in preparation for the May 9, 2022 presidential elections. Based on National Vaccination Operation Center (NVOC) data, a total of 50,066,590 doses have already been administered to more than 30 million Filipinos nationwide, of which 23,360,489 individuals have been fully vaccinated or 30.28 percent of the country’s target population as of Oct. 11. “This milestone comes at a time when our country’s vaccine supply is continuously arriving in bulk, and the entire government is focused on ramping up the vaccination program to ensure we inoculate as many people as possible in a faster and more efficient manner,” Galvez said.. Galvez said more than half a million vaccine doses have been administered to priority groups B and C, which cover teachers, as well as government and private sector workers. He said these priority groups will be recategorized and integrated into the general population group. “With the influx of our vaccine supply, it is also right to simplify our priority sectors to ensure we inoculate all the unvaccinated Filipinos,” Galvez said. “Our challenge right now is generating greater demand among our people. And the best way to do this is to vaccinate all Filipinos who are willing to get the jab,” he added. Galvez said the expansion of the vaccine rollout to the general population is part of the country’s recalibrated vaccination plan. Priority, however, will still be given to senior citizens and those who are highly vulnerable to the disease. Meanwhile, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian urged the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 to avoid a “walk-in” system to prevent crowding in vaccination sites. Gatchalian made this call in a Senate panel hearing on the pilot testing of limited face-to-face classes. The same hearing discussed the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines to minors. “I would discourage the NTF from doing a first-come, first-served walk-in type of arrangement,” Gatchalian said during the hearing, saying this could spell disaster. He cited the experience of Valenzuela, which strictly imposed vaccination schedules to avoid overcrowding in vaccination sites. According to the NTF, there are 12.7 million teenagers in the 12-17 age group. The Department of Health (DOH) explained that based on the Global Burden of Disease, 10 percent of those in this age group are estimated to have comorbidities.
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