Cabinet Secretary and Acting Presidential Spokesperson Karlo Nograles has announced that the government will begin administering doses to children aged 5 to 11 in Metro Manila beginning Friday, February 4.
The vaccination sites include the Philippine Heart Center, Philippine Children’s Medical Center, National Children’s Hospital and SM North EDSA (Skydome) in Quezon City; Manila Zoo in Manila City; and Filoil Flying V Center in San Juan City.
The rollout will be expanded to the rest of Metro Manila and other regions the following week.
“The doses for minors have been reformulated so that these are appropriate for them. Ibig sabihin, mas mababa ang dosage… ito ay sadyang binili upang eksklusibong gamitin para sa pagbabakuna ng mga bata na nasa edad lima hanggang labing-isang taong gulang lamang,” Sec. Nograles said in a press briefing on January 31.
Senator and Chair of the Senate Committee on Health Christopher “Bong” Go called on parents to avail of this opportunity to vaccinate younger children, saying “ito po ang pinaka-epektibong paraan upang maproteksyunan ang ating mga mahal sa buhay. Nasa datos naman na kadalasan ‘yung mga may grabe na sintomas at namamatay, sila ‘yung mga hindi pa bakunado.”
Like adults, children will also receive two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine albeit in smaller quantities. An incoming shipment of pediatric doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are expected to arrive in the country within the week, with more coming soon. Children will not be required to obtain a medical clearance or doctor’s order prior to their appointments.
“Let us put a stop to this pandemic,” the senator added, “Magpabakuna na po sa pinakamalapit na vaccination site. Huwag kayong matakot dahil ang bakuna ang tanging susi o solusyon para makabalik na tayong lahat sa ating normal na pamumuhay.”
The government aims to vaccinate over 39.4 million children between zero to 17 years old. As of January 24, some 7.2 million adolescents or children aged 12 to 17 are fully vaccinated while another 8.8 million have obtained their first dose.
Health authorities are seeking to complete the vaccinations for the age group before the end of the first quarter of 2022.
Following President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to approve the pilot test for in-person classes in low-risk areas, the senator also issued a stern reminder to authorities to ensure that the proper health protocols are in place to protect the lives of the students and educators.
A planned pilot test for in-person classes in 100 schools had been proposed by the Department of Education in 2021. Participating schools are located in minimal-risk areas based on the criteria set by the Department of Health.
Seantor Go expressed modest reservations, “Pagdating sa mga bata, takot talaga ako. Unang-una hindi pa sila bakunado. Pangalawa, hindi natin kontrolado ‘yung galaw nila at pangatlo, baka mag-back to zero na naman tayo. Kaya ngayon na pwede na magpabakuna ang mga bata, huwag natin sayangin ang oportunidad na ito na proteksyunan sila mula sa sakit,” cautioned Go.