MANILA (UPDATE) - Loot bags containing candies, colorful face masks and balloons were prepared in a vaccination site in Parañaque City as government on Monday expanded nationwide the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines to children ages 5 to 11 in a bid to protect more members of the vulnerable sector.
The rollout will run in parallel with the third round of the Bayanihan Bakunahan program, which was extended until Friday, the Department of Health earlier said.
Some 91,000 children of the said age group have so far been vaccinated against COVID-19, while 9 million children ages 12 to 17 have also received the jab with "minimal" and no serious adverse effects, according to Secretary Carlito Galvez, chief implementer of the National Task Force Against COVID-19.
“Dalawang taon na silang nakapirmi sa bahay at di lingid sa atin ang epekto nito sa kanilang psychological development at mental health… malaki ang matutulong ng ating vaccination para unti-unti na silang makabalik sa normal na pamumuhay," he told reporters.
(They've been at home for 2 years already and we know the effect of this on their psychological development and mental health...Vaccination will be a big help so they can return to normalcy.)
“Napakahalaga pong aspeto nitong pagbabakuna nila para makasalamuha at makalaro nila ang kanilang mga mag-aaral. The need for their social skills development and function, napakahalaga nito (it's very important)," Health Secretary Francisco Duque added.
Government has opened 482 vaccination sites for children ages 5 to 11, with 84 in Metro Manila, Duque said.
Another 6 million doses of Pfizer's vaccine for the age group will arrive this month, Galvez added.
"Lahat ng vaccination sites ang recommendation natin ay magkaroon ng separate, kasi ang ginagamit ay reformulated vaccine...Kumpleto po ang ating doses for 5 to 11 may darating na 6 million ngayong buwan, ito po ay good until month of March," he said.
(We've recommended all vaccination sites to be separate from those for adults because the reformulated vaccine is used...We have complete supply of doses for children ages 5 to 11 and another 6 million will arrive this month, this will be good until month of March.)
Children and their parents must pre-register with local governments and both must bring valid IDs with pictures, according to DOH guidelines. Only children with preexisting medical condition need to present a medical certificate from their doctors while others will be assessed prior to vaccination.
Children will be monitored for 30 minutes after vaccination if they have previously experienced allergic reactions, and 15 minutes if they have not experienced any.
At least 2 parents last week asked a Quezon City court to stop the inoculation against COVID-19 of children aged 5 to 11.
Authorities have also urged adults to get inoculated against COVID-19 to protect children who are ineligible to get the jab.
--Report from Wena Cos and Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News