NEARLY 40,000 minors in Cebu aged 12-17 years old are now in the master list of local government units just waiting for the national government to give the go signal on administering the Covid-19 vaccines to minors.

This, SunStar Cebu learned Tuesday, September 28, 2021, after contacting six towns and cities following Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr.’s announcement Tuesday that President Rodrigo Duterte had approved the vaccination of the general population, including adolescents 12 to 17 years old.

Duterte announced Monday, September 27, that the government might be able to vaccinate the general population, including children, against coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) in October 2021.

He urged parents to register their children who are eligible to receive the vaccine with their respective local government units (LGU).

The Food and Drug Administration has granted emergency use authorization to Moderna and Pfizer for the use of their mRNA vaccines in children aged 12 to 17 years old.

In his weekly Talk to the People Monday, Duterte quoted vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. as saying that total Covid-19 vaccine deliveries will exceed 100 million doses by the end of October.

“(This) means that maybe, we can expand the vaccination program to the general population and, hopefully, also our children within October,” he said.

As of Monday, Duterte said more than 44 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines have been administered nationwide.

The government is currently vaccinating priority groups A1 (health workers), A2 (senior citizens), A3 (persons with comorbidities), A4 (essential workers) and A5 (indigent).

In Cebu, the LGUs contacted by SunStar were found to be in various stages of making the master list of minors aged 12-17 for vaccination, with some having started the listing, one completing it, and one not yet starting at all.

In Mandaue City, Levi Doverte, data manager of the Mandaue City Vaccine Operation Center, said 8,495 minors aged 12-17 years old had been listed for Covid-19 vaccination as of Friday, September 24, 2021.

But he told SunStar Cebu that they are currently also trying to capture data on residents “17 to 0” years old.

In Cebu City, Dr. Jeffrey Ibones, city health officer, said listing of minors had not yet begun.

He said even profiling of minors had not begun even if the Department of Health had already given its nod on this.

Ibones cited issues with getting parental consent for capturing data on the minors for the profiling, which would be taken during house-to-house visits.

He said this issue was still being discussed by the officials dealing with the vaccination program of the city, including the lawyers in the group like Acting Mayor Michael Rama and New Oasis for Adaptation and a Home (Noah) Complex manager Jocelyn Pesquera.

But he said once profiling begins, they would probably be able to do it very quickly, as during the profiling of the adults, they were able to encode data on about 10,000 individuals daily since there were many barangay and day care workers they could tap for the profiling.

In Lapu-Lapu City, City Health Office head Agnes Realiza said they had listed 5,000 minors aged 12-17 years in the city’s master list.

She estimated that the city likely had some 50,000 minors.

Whether they would go ahead and inoculate the minors ahead of some adults when October comes would depend, she said, on the guidelines to be provided by the Department of Health.

In Consolacion town, Dr. Marie Angelique Balbutin, rural health physician, said 6,024 minors 12-17 years old had been listed.

They had already been included in the listing of the residents in general when the Covid-19 vaccination program began.

Not all of these 6,024 expressed willingness to be vaccinated, however. Some said no, while others were undecided.

In the City of Naga, public information officer Ruth Rowena Alensonorin said they had completed the listing of minors 12-17 years old. They did their survey last March.

As of September 11, 2021, a total of 17,930 minors had been listed, of whom 4,134 said yes to vaccination, 12,839 said no, while 957 were undecided.

But Alensonorin said they may still be able to convince some of these minors to later agree to vaccination, just as they had some adults after informing them of the benefits of vaccination.

In Talisay City, around 1,502 individuals aged 12 to 17 years old had registered for vaccination as of Tuesday, September 28, 2021. They registered through the city’s online registration portal, the city’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) said.

But the EOC is expecting more to avail themselves of pre-registration as they are also conducting house-to-house registration in the city’s 22 barangays.

The City initiated pre-registration of the minors after Mayor Gerald Anthony “Samsam” Gullas Jr. called on his constituents to register their children following the national government’s plan to conduct vaccinations on that particular priority group.

On Tuesday, the Visayas Covid-19 Vaccination Operations Center (VVOC) said Metro Cebu had not hit its target numbers for vaccination for the past week, September 20 to 26, 2021.

Based on the VVOC data available on Tuesday, September 27, of the 153,750 target doses to be administered as first dose in the past week, only 27,000 doses were actually used as first dose, while of the 153,750 doses targeted to be used as second dose, only 66,914 doses were actually used as second dose.

“We are not hitting our target doses. With the upcoming release of the guidelines for the ages 12 to 17 and the allowance of the general population approach instead of subgroups, we will hopefully expect better vaccination rates,” said Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, VVOC spokesperson.

The “allowance of the general population approach” means that everyone can be vaccinated and one need not wait for his or her subgroup classification to be vaccinated.

She said they had yet to consolidate the total number of 12- to 17-year-olds listed in the master list for vaccination. (SunStar Philippines, CTL, JKV, WBS)