Marikina starts COVID-19 vaccinations of children with comorbidities

Bianca Dava, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 22 2021 04:41 PM | Updated as of Oct 23 2021 02:05 PM

MANILA— The city government of Marikina on Friday started COVID-19 vaccinations of children aged 12 to 17 who have comorbidities.

Unlike other cities in Metro Manila where pediatric vaccinations are conducted in hospitals, Marikina converted a sports complex into a vaccination facility for children.

Mayor Marcelino Teodoro said the Department of Health earlier inspected and approved the use of the Marikina Sports Center for pediatric vaccinations.

“Hiwalay ang sa minors. Nakikita natin ang kaayusan. Maluwag, at ang ventilation ay maayos. Ito ay in-inspect, in-accredit at vinalidate ng DOH na qualified maging vaccination center kahit wala ito sa ospital,” the local chief executive told reporters in Marikina City. 

“Mas ligtas itong lugar na ito. Auxiliary medical services nakaakibat na rin dito.”

(This is separate for the minors. We see order here. This is spacious and the ventilation is good. This has been inspected, accredited and validated by the DOH as a qualified vaccination center even if it's not located in a hospital. This place is much safer and includes auxiliary medical service.)

Teodoro said the city has a limited number of hospitals, which are not as spacious as the open-air sports center. 

They also set up a medical room for emergency cases and a separate vaccination area compliant with the standards required to administer Pfizer vaccines—one of two vaccine brands granted by the Food and Drug Administration emergency use authorization (EUA) for children.

The venue is also just across the Amang Rodriguez Memorial Medical Center.

On Friday, 326 minors aged 12 to 17 with comorbidities received their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

“Natutuwa kami na meron na sa kanila. Kami sa buong bahay, lahat na may protection. 'Yung senior namin fully vaccinated na rin,” said Jong Paragas, whose 15-year-old daughter and 14-year-old son got vaccinated. 

“Nasa medical field kami ng wife ko. Talagang open kami sa vaccinations ng mga bata. Ever since, kumpleto sila sa vaccines. Positive kami na dapat mabakunahan sila kontra COVID.”

(Were happy that there's vaccine for them. All of us in our household now have protection. Our senior is fully vaccinated also. My wife and I are in the medical field. We're really open to vaccinations for children. They've always had complete vaccinations. We are positive that they should get inoculated against COVID.)

Another parent, Celine Montalla was happy that children can now be vaccinated against COVID-19.

"Nakita natin ibang bansa medyo normalized na ang conditions sa kanila. Nang mabalitaan ko iyon, sumaya ako. Halos dalawang taon silang di nakalabas. Dalawang taon ng buhay nila nasa bahay lang. Maswerte ka kung may garden ka, pero 'yung ibang bata wala talagang space. Nakikita ko nagsusumikap silang (education department) ibalik 'yun (face-to-face classes) kaso sobra ang risk of exposure sa Philippines, so this is one step forward definitely. The return to the new normal, may chance.”

(We saw that conditions in other countries have normalized. When I heard that, I was so happy. Children have not been out for almost two years. Two years of their lives have been spent at home. You're lucky if you have a garden, others really don't have space. I see how [the education department] is working hard to resume face-to-face classes but the risk of exposure is high in the Philippines, so this is one step forward definitely.) 

Montalla accompanied her 17-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son to the sports center.

Both parents and children were made to sign consent and assent forms, respectively. They also underwent orientation before the actual inoculation.

“Humihingi tayo ng medical certificate at parental consent and assent forms. 'Yung pagpapatunay na naiintindihan ng minors ang proseso na gagawin,” Teodoro said.

(We require a medical certificate and parental consent and assent forms. This is to prove that the minors understand the process.)

Teodoro said parents and children learn the process and benefits of vaccination during the orientation. Guidance counselors and volunteer teachers are also there to assist children. He added that those who change their mind could still opt to reschedule.
The mayor said they target to vaccinate some 100,000 children aged 12 to 17 in the city. Of this number, around 5,000 have comorbidities.

For Friday’s pilot run, only 326 minors were vaccinated, but Teodoro said they can inoculate up to 1,000 minors a day.

Once vaccinations are in full swing, the Marikina Sports Center will be used exclusively for pediatric vaccinations, he added.

“Every day na ito hanggang ma-meet ang target. Sisikapin natin kung kaya ma-increase ang bilang o capacity output natin. Priority ay Marikina residents. Di muna tumatanggap mula sa ibang lugar dahil pilot vaccination ito. Pero pinapayagan for purposes of establishing herd immunity sa schools kung estudyante ka ng eskwelahan ng Marikina,” Teodoro said.

(We will do this every day until we meet the target. We will try to increase our capacity output. The priority will be Marikina residents. We will not be accepting people from other areas because this is just still a pilot vaccination. But we will allow it for purposes of establishing herd immunity in schools, if you're a student of a school in Marikina.)