By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — Senator Win Gatchalian is urging local government units and schools to prepare for the rollout of COVID-19 vaccine booster shots among minors aged 12 to 17.
Gatchalian made this call following the Department of Health’s approval of using the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine as a booster dose for the 12-17 age group.
According to Gatchalian, giving booster shots to minors in this age group will give them an added layer of protection as the Department of Education (DepEd) eyes the full resumption of face-to-face classes in August. Gatchalian also emphasized the need to protect minors amid a steady increase of new COVID-19 cases nationwide.
Gatchalian, who is also the incoming Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture in the 19th Congress, reiterated the need for schools to proactively participate in the COVID-19 vaccination program. This is to ensure efficient identification, inoculation, and monitoring of learners who are eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines and booster doses.
Last May, the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 gave instructions to make COVID-19 vaccines available in schools, a move that Gatchalian supported.
“Ngayong makakatanggap na ng mga booster shots ang ating mga menor de edad o ‘yung mga nasa edad na 12 hanggang 17, dapat nang maghanda ang mga lokal na pamahalaan at mga paaralan upang maging maayos ang ating sistema ng pagbabakuna,” said Gatchalian.
While COVID-19 vaccination is not mandatory for face-to-face classes, Gatchalian maintained that increasing COVID-19 vaccine coverage among learners will add safety when schools reopen next academic year.
“Mahalagang gawin natin ang lahat ng hakbang upang matiyak natin ang kaligtasan ng ating mga mag-aaral sa kanilang pagbabalik sa face-to-face classes,” the lawmaker added.
Gatchalian has called on the incoming administration to open all schools, child development centers and Alternative Learning System (ALS) community learning centers to accelerate the recovery of the basic education sector from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. (ai/mtvn)