By Ernie Reyes
Sen. Win Gatchalian (Photo by PIA)
MANILA — Senator Win Gatchalian hailed the government’s plans to include teenagers in the COVID-19 vaccination program, a move that the lawmaker says would boost the basic education sector’s return to normalcy and the safe reopening of schools.
Considering the government’s plans to inoculate the younger population, Gatchalian said it is essential to study how other countries, including the United States, is rolling out the vaccines among children and teenagers. Clinical guidance from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) allows the administering of COVID-19 vaccines at the same time as other routine vaccines, a move supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
Gatchalian added that local government units (LGUs) should start preparations for the inoculation of the younger population. He said that health workers all the way to the barangay level should be mobilized while schools should be tapped as partners, especially in spreading awareness about the safety of vaccines.
To date, COVID-19 vaccines in the country are not yet authorized for those under 18 years old. In the United States, the CDC recommended the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for adolescents aged 12-15.
According to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, vaccinating approximately 15 million kids aged 12 to 17 would entail an additional expenditure of about P20 billion. The finance chief added that P55 billion is needed to give booster shots next year to 85 million adults and teenagers. While the inoculation program for kids could start as early this year, Dominguez said the decision is up to health authorities.
This year, P82.5 billion was allotted to procure and roll out 140 million doses to vaccinate 70 million adult Filipinos to be able to achieve herd immunity. To help raise funds for the country’s expanded vaccination program, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Administrative Order No. 41, which directed agencies under the Executive, Department to identify savings from their appropriations under the 2020 General Appropriations Act (GAA).
“Ngayong nakikita na natin ang posibilidad na mababakunahan ang ating mga kabataan kontra COVID-19, dapat simulan na rin natin ang paghahanda ng ating mga lokal na pamahalaan upang maayos at mabilis na maipamahagi ang mga bakuna sa mga kabataan,” said the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education Arts and Culture.
“Kung mababakunahan na rin natin ang mga kabataan, tataas ang kumpiyansa nila at ng kanilang mga magulang na bumalik sa kanilang mga paaralan,” he added. (AI/MTVN)