MANILA — COVID-19 vaccination rates in Philippine colleges and universities have increased this November, but there is a need for the sector to "push harder" to quickly achieve herd immunity, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) said Monday as the country kicked off a 3-day nationwide vaccine drive.
Based on reports from 2,013 higher education institutions (HEIs), as of Nov. 25, around 82 percent of faculty members and employees have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, a rise from the 72-percent vaccination rate recorded at the end of October.
The vaccination rate for HEI personnel is at 70 percent and above in all regions, with Central Luzon, Eastern Visayas, Davao Region and the Cordillera region nearing 90 percent, according to the CHED.
Meanwhile, the vaccination rate for students rose from 30 percent to 46 percent, which the CHED attributed to the "aggressive" school-based vaccination that began in mid-October.
As of Nov. 25, more than 1.8 million tertiary students have been vaccinated against the respiratory disease, with the Zamboanga Peninsula reporting the highest percentage of vaccinated students at 70.1 percent.
In a statement, CHED Chairman Prospero de Vera said the vaccination drive in higher education "has gained momentum" but more aggressive effort was needed.
"We need to push harder during the 3-day vaccination drive to facilitate limited face-to-face classes," De Vera said, referring to the ongoing national vaccination drive and the gradual resumption of in-person classes.
Under CHED guidelines, only vaccinated students and employees are allowed to participate in limited in-person classes.
According to the CHED, approximately 320 colleges and universities, 9,459 HEI volunteers, and 211,208 students are being eyed to get inoculated during the 3-day vaccine drive.
Earlier this month, the inter-agency body leading the country's COVID-19 response approved of the phased resumption of in-person classes for all college programs in areas under Alert Level 3 and below.