CEBU CITY – Local government units (LGUs) in Central Visayas are now allowed to include children 12 to 17 years old in their master list for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccination rollout, a Department of Health official in Region 7 said on Monday.
Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, DOH-7 chief pathologist, said the Health agency has instructed LGUs to start the inclusion of minors in their enlistment activities down to the village level.
However, the start of inoculation for children will be dependent on two factors — the timely cascading of the guidelines from the national government and the availability of vaccine supply for this age group.
“It really depends on supply availability and the guidelines that the experts panel and technical working group will come up with. However, the national government through (Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr.) has assured us that they are including these age groups in the expanded planning for making vaccines available to our pediatric population,” Loreche told the Philippine News Agency in a message.
She said the guidelines will determine under which category the pediatric population will be inoculated, but pointed out that minors who are 12 years old and above who have comorbidities could receive their vaccine under the A3 category.
Meanwhile, Loreche said the Visayas Vaccination Operations Office has welcomed the idea of giving booster doses of Covid-19 vaccines.
She, however, said the issue on availability of supply will still be discussed “considering that there is still a huge population unvaccinated as yet”.
“It might be more prudent to focus on vaccinating at least 50 percent of the total eligible population and then start with the booster shots,” she added.
Loreche’s remark on booster shots came after vaccine expert panel member Dr. Rontgene Solante said in the Sept. 11 Laging Handa public briefing that it could be beneficial for an individual to get a booster jab of the Sinovac vaccine.
“Sinovac is a good vaccine that is safe and effective. Should the vaccine experts panel recommend this as booster shots for all, whatever platform of vaccine they may have received for the two doses or single dose for Janssen, then we can push through with it,” she said.
She said that in the “triad for pandemic control”, testing, minimum public health measures and vaccines should still be integrated as a way of life to assure that the Cebuano community can move forward and live with Covid-19.
Meanwhile, Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes announced that the locality has fully vaccinated 50 percent of the eligible population, as of Sunday.
Central Visayas has received 3.3 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines, as of Sept. 16 data. (PNA)