AS THE government eyes to begin the inoculation of minors against COVID-19 on October 15, Senator Win Gatchalian is urging the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 to avoid a “walk-in” system and 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. Minors aged 12-17 with comorbidities are listed in the Pediatric A3 category and will be the first to receive their COVID-19 vaccines. Children of healthcare workers will also be given priority in pediatric vaccination against COVID-19.
“I would discourage the NTF from doing a first-come, first-served walk-in type of arrangement,” Gatchalian said during the hearing.
“We don’t allow a walk-in type of arrangement dahil talagang mag-iipon-ipon ang mga tao, especially now that the weather condition is unpredictable at maya’t maya ay umuulan. Let’s not do a walk-in type of arrangement because that will really spell disaster at the end,” the senator said, citing 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.
Eight hospitals were so far designated for the first phase of pediatric vaccination from October 15-30: 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 Philippine Children’s Medical Center. The vaccine rollout in hospitals will begin with the 15-17 age group followed by minors aged 12-14.
“It’s about time that we vaccinate our teenagers and we support the prioritization of teenagers with comorbidities. What we’re driving at is that we don’t want a scenario wherein they will be lining up in those eight hospitals. Kawawa naman ang mga batang ito sa ganung sitwasyon,” Gatchalian added.
To date, two COVID-19 vaccines have approval from the Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use on minors. The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine has FDA approval for use on minors aged 12-15. Moderna’s vaccine, on the other hand, is approved for minors aged 12-17.