MANILA— The country's COVID-19 task force has urged basic educational institutions to encourage their learners to get vaccinated against COVID-19 especially if they will participate during in-person classes, Malacañang said on Friday.
Acting Palace spokesperson Martin Andanar clarified that COVID-19 vaccination is still not a requirement for learners in the basic level.
"The IATF strongly encouraged public and private educational institutions for basic education to undertake COVID-19 vaccination programs for their respective learners," Andanar said in a statement.
"The IATF... strongly supported the conduct of face-to-face classes for all public and private public institutions for basic education."
This can work through the help of the health department and local government units, which may be done inside the schools' premises, he said.
Andanar said private educational institutions may do the same.
All COVID-19 vaccinations for basic learners will need consent from their parents or guardians in line with the Department of Health's (DOH) guidelines.
"The DOH, in coordination with the respective LGUs, shall ensure the proper implementation of the COVID-19 vaccination programs for basic education learners in public and private educational institutions," the Palace statement read.
The Philippines launched its COVID-19 vaccination for children ages 5 to 11 in February. As of this week, the Palace said nearly 2.3 million individuals in the age group were fully vaccinated.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III had said COVID-19 jabs could be given in school clinics, similar to how vaccines for other diseases are offered to students.
Officials earlier raised the idea of on-campus vaccination after Education Secretary Leonor Briones reported that only 676 private schools were conducting limited in-person classes, equivalent to 5.47 percent of the total 16,000 schools.
As of Wednesday, some 68.5 million individuals are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, while over 13.5 million got their boosters.
— with a report from Jaehwa Bernardo, ABS-CBN News