The government will implement phased approach in its COVID-19 pediatric immunization to build public confidence on available vaccines, the country’s vaccine czar said on Wednesday.
In his report to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said pediatric vaccination has been a sensitive issue in the Philippines because of the Dengvaxia incident during the Aquino administration.
“Sa ngayon po talagang takot ang mga ibang mga doktor at takot din ‘yung mga ibang mga magulang dahil kasi nga po ‘yung children vaccination is a very sensitive issue sa Pilipinas po talaga,” said Galvez, who is also the chief implementer of the National Task Force Against COVID-19.
With the implementation of phased approach, which will cover 12 to 17 years old, those with comorbidities will be under Priority Group A3, while others will be put under Priority Group C.
The government will pilot test the initiative under Phase 1 on Friday, in which vaccinations will be carried out in selected hospitals, according to Galvez.
An expert group decided to conduct the immunization in hospitals so that health care providers could quickly respond in case there are adverse events.
Initially, six hospitals registered for the rollout, but Galvez said more hospitals from Iloilo and Cebu showed intention of participating.
The second phase will be conducted on October 22, with all local government units (LGUs) in the Metro Manila conducting simultaneous mini rollouts. The task force selected six cities in the NCR to implement the pilot project, Galvez said.
“So ‘yun po ang tinitingnan po namin na kung sino po ang prepared na LGU to have ‘yung tinatawag nating mini rollout, after we have observed at least ‘yung one week ‘yung ating pilot, then we will execute po ‘yung second phase ng October 22,” he explained.
The third phase will be on October 29, in which the inoculation will be done in the entire NCR and other nearby areas that have at least 50-percent senior citizen vaccination.
After that, mini rollouts could be conducted in Cordillera Administrative Region, Ilocos region, Cagayan Valley region, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Eastern Visayas, Northern Mindanao, and CARAGA, the vaccine czar said.
Galvez enumerated the benefits of vaccinating the country’s young population. Once the young people are immunized, he said the country could start face-to-face schooling and classes will be sustained and protected.
It will also contribute to economic recovery because the country’s 29 million children, once allowed to go outside, could boost spending, he said.
Lastly, it will be good to young people’s well-being particularly as the pandemic started to take its toll on mental and emotional health of children.
“Dahil po nandoon lang po sila sa bahay, marami na po na mga suicidal, at the same time, nagkakaroon po ng mga depression. Pumupunta po kami sa ospital, ang sabi po ng mga ibang psychologists dumadami po ang kanilang pasyente in terms of ‘yung mental health,” he said.
“So itong pong vaccination natin napakaimportante. At ito pong mga ospital lahat po kadalasan po nito, mahuhusay ang kanilang pamamaraan sa care ng mga bata.” PND