No walk-ins’: Gatchalian wants smooth COVID-19 vaccination for minors

No walk-ins’: Gatchalian wants smooth COVID-19 vaccination for minors

By Ernie Reyes

MANILA — As the government eyes to begin the inoculation of minors
against COVID-19 on October 15, Senator Win Gatchalian urged the
National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 to avoid a “walk-in” system
to prevent crowding in vaccination sites.

Gatchalian made this call in a Senate panel hearing on the pilot
testing of limited face-to-face classes. The same hearing discussed
the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines to minors. Minors aged 12-17 with
comorbidities are listed in the Pediatric A3 category and will be the
first to receive their COVID-19 vaccines. Children of healthcare
workers will also be given priority in pediatric vaccination against
COVID-19.

“I would discourage the NTF from doing a first-come, first-served
walk-in type of arrangement,” Gatchalian said during the hearing.

“We don’t allow a walk-in type of arrangement dahil talagang
mag-iipon-ipon ang mga tao, especially now that the weather condition
is unpredictable at maya’t maya ay umuulan. Let’s not do a walk-in
type of arrangement because that will really spell disaster at the
end,” the senator said, citing the experience of Valenzuela which
strictly imposed vaccination schedules to avoid overcrowding in
vaccination sites.

According to the NTF, there are 12.7 million teenagers in the 12-17
age group. The Department of Health (DOH) explained that based on the
Global Burden of Disease, 10 percent of those in this age group are
estimated to have comorbidities.

Eight hospitals were so far designated for the first phase of
pediatric vaccination from October 15-30: National Children’s
Hospital, Philippine Heart Center, Pasig City Children’s Hospital, Fe
Del Mundo Medical Center, Philippine General Hospital, Makati Medical
Center, St. Luke’s Medical Center in Taguig, and Philippine Children’s
Medical Center. The vaccine rollout in hospitals will begin with the
15-17 age group followed by minors aged 12-14.

“It’s about time that we vaccinate our teenagers and we support the
prioritization of teenagers with comorbidities. What we’re driving at
is that we don’t want a scenario wherein they will be lining up in
those eight hospitals. Kawawa naman ang mga batang ito sa ganung
sitwasyon,” Gatchalian added.

To date, two COVID-19 vaccines have approval from the Philippine Food
and Drug Administration (FDA) for use on minors. The Pfizer-BioNTech
COVID-19 vaccine has FDA approval for use on minors aged 12-15.
Moderna’s vaccine, on the other hand, is approved for minors aged
12-17. (ai/mtvn)

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