With the government preparing for the fourth round of Bayanihan, Bakunahan or National Vaccination Day this coming March, Senator Win Gatchalian bats for the participation of schools and Department of Education (DepEd) field units to increase vaccination coverage in the pediatric population.
The re-electionist senator cited the crucial role of COVID-19 vaccination among learners to ensure the safe resumption of face-to-face classes. Gatchalian, who is Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture, has been pushing for the resumption of in-person learning to jumpstart the recovery of the education sector. The fourth National Vaccination Day will prioritize senior citizens and the primary series for the pediatric population.
According to Gatchalian, tapping schools is an efficient way to identify and monitor learners who are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Around 14 million learners aged 5-11 are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, the DepEd said. The government targets to inoculate 15.56 million children in this age group.
“Magandang pagkakataon ang fourth national vaccination day upang mabakunahan pa ang mas marami nating mga mag-aaral. Kung mas marami tayong mababakunahan na mga mag-aaral, mas makatitiyak tayo sa kanilang kaligtasan pagdating sa face-to-face classes,” said Gatchalian.
The lawmaker added that the fourth national vaccination day is an opportunity to ensure that eligible teachers can receive their booster shots, which can be administered three months after the second dose. In a televised press briefing on February 24, Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III said that only 28% of the eligible population have received their booster shots.
Only vaccinated teachers are allowed to participate in face-to-face classes, while vaccinated learners are given preference. Based on DepEd’s timeline, the “transitioning to new normal” starts during School Year 2022-2023 where face-to-face instruction is institutionalized as part of the overall learning delivery system amidst the pandemic.
Based on estimates by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), the lack of face-to-face classes in the country for one year will result in P11 trillion in productivity losses over the next 40 years.