MANILA - Over 100,000 children aged 5-11 years old have been vaccinated in the pilot implementation of the pediatric vaccination program last week, exceeding initial targets set by the government, according to vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr.
On Valentine's Day, pediatric vaccination was also rolled-out in different parts of the country, headed by Health Secretary Francisco Duque III in Parañaque.
Being cooped up in homes, children are now one step closer to getting a life with a semblance of normalcy, a life taken from them almost two years ago when the pandemic began.
“Hindi lingid sa atin ang epekto nito sa kanilang psychological development at mental health, kaya napakahalaga na makapiling nila muli ang kanilang mag kakalase, kalaro at mga kaibigan,” Galvez said during the launch.
(It hasn’t been a secret how the pandemic has affected the psychological development and mental health of children. It’s important that they are now closer to seeing their classmates and friends face to face again.)
Duque said physical interaction is necessary for the development of children, especially during their formative years.
“The need for their social skills development and cognitive function, napakahalaga po nito. Ako po’y nananawagan sa lahat ng mga magulang sa Pilipinas na sige na po, samantalahin na natin ang pagkakataon na ito, libre, ligtas, epektibo, at de kalidad ang ating mga bakuna,” he implored.
(I am calling on to parents to vaccinate their children. Our vaccines are free, safe, and effective.)
There are 482 vaccination sites across regions all over the country, and 82 in the National Capital Region are open for pediatric vaccination.
Galvez assured that there will be enough vaccine shots for the pediatric population, with 6 million doses expected to arrive this month, enough to last until March.
Vaccination sites are recommended to have an area for pediatric inoculation separate from the adults and adolescents, because the pediatric vaccine is a different formula from the latter.
Just as in the pilot roll-out, vaccine sites for children in Iloilo City, Naga City, and Davao City have been made into playgrounds to keep kids entertained and alleviate their fear.
In Cebu, over 200,000 children have already been registered, well over the initial supply of 26,000 doses allocated to the province. The Visayas Vaccination Operation Center (VVOC) assured that more doses will be made available for the province soon.
In Laguna, some parents got their boosters while their children got their first doses.
Erwin Caricitan and his wife got their booster shots while their two children aged 8 and 9 years old got their first dose of the reformulated Pfizer vaccine.
“Protocol po sa school na bakunahan ang mga bata. Ngayon magpapabooster pa kamin mag-asawa sabay na rin (It’s their school’s protocol to have them vaccinated if they want to go back to face-to-face classes. My wife and I got our bosoters today too),” Caricitan told ABS-CBN News.
St. Scholastica Marikina is also expecting to inoculate 400 kids on the first day of the national roll-out for the pediatric vaccination.
Meanwhile, the DOH, the NTF-COVID19, and the IATF will be in talks to determine if booster cards should also be required when entering establishments.
“Sa ngayon ang definition ng completed primary series is still yung first 2 doses for 2-dose series or 1 kung single-dose, kumpleto ka na, but booster policy will have to be reviewed by the IATF and we will get back to you as soon as there is a definitive definition of the booster policy,” Duque said.
(The definition of having completed the primary series is still the same: 2 doses for the 2-dose series, and 1 dose fo the single-dose series. The policy on boosters will have to be reviewed by the IATF.)
Pediatric vaccination is expected to continue while vaccination sites remain open for the extended national vaccination days that will last until February 18.
- With reports from Dennis Datu, Hernel Tocmo, Aireen Perol, Rolen Escaniel, and Annie Perez.