LOCAL government units (LGUs) can start the vaccination of children aged 12 to 17 against coronavirus disease (Covid-19) next week even if they have not yet vaccinated 70 percent of their senior citizen population.
Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje bared this in an online forum Thursday, October 28, 2021, saying the experts have agreed to no longer make the percentage of senior citizens accomplishment as requirement, as both can be done at the same time.
The government earlier said that LGUs must first vaccinate 70 percent of their respective senior citizen population before they can start administering doses to children aged 12 to 17.
The pediatric vaccination is set to start mostly in the National Capital Region on November 3 and will be implemented nationwide starting November 5. The DOH said Philippines has a pediatric population of 12,722,070.
“Ang unang suggestion and recommendation ng ating mga experts is sana mataas yung A2 (senior citizens) kasi walang silbi na magbakuna tayo sa bata, pero alam naman natin na ang mga namamatay ay yung mga senior citizens, but operationally, nakita din natin, at may mga recommendation din ang ating mga healthcare workers na kung pwede bang pagsabayin,” Cabotaje said.
(The first suggestion of our experts is to make sure that senior citizens are vaccinated, because there no sense in vaccinating the children when we knew that those who died from Covid-19 are mostly senior citizens, but operationally, we also saw, as per recommendation also of our healthcare workers, that we can do it at the same time.)
She clarified, though, that while the vaccination of senior citizens and children can be done synchronically, senior citizens must still be prioritized.
“We are still requesting that they will still be prioritized, and we are hoping that with children vaccination, maiincrease ang pagbabakuna nung ating mga lolo at lola (we can increase the number of senior citizens who will be vaccinated),” Cabotaje said.
The DOH official assured that the government will continue to strengthen its strategies to improve the vaccination drive to make sure that all senior citizens and the pediatric population, especially those with comorbidities, are vaccinated against Covid-19.
As of October 27, the DOH said that 4,640,338 senior citizens in the country have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, while 3,789,517 have received their first dose of the vaccines.
In the National Capital Region, where the pediatric vaccination has been implemented, a total of 23,727 children aged 12 to 17 have so far received their first dose.
The Philippines already has administered a total of 57,494,154 dose of Covid-19 vaccine, as of Wednesday, October 27. (LMY/SunStar Philippines)