Senator Win Gatchalian is urging local government units (LGUs) to prepare for the vaccination of children aged 5 to 11, a move that he said would be crucial in boosting confidence in safely reopening schools amid the threat of the Omicron variant.
Gatchalian made this call after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for the inoculation of children aged 5 to 11. The Department of Health (DOH) said last November that it is targeting to vaccinate 13.5 million in this age group. Prior to this recent FDA approval, the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were used to inoculate minors in the 12 to 17 age group.
In a Senate panel hearing on the expansion of face-to-face classes held on December 17, the DOH reported that 7.1 million minors aged 12 to 17 have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, with 2.7 million of them now fully vaccinated. There are 12.7 million minors in the 12 to 17 age group.
“Ngayong aprubado na ang pagbabakuna kontra COVID-19 para sa mga batang may edad na 5 hanggang 11, ang susunod na hakbang ay ang paghahanda ng ating mga lokal na pamahalaan para sa pagbabakuna,” said Gatchalian, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture.
“Napapanahon ang pagbabakuna natin sa ating mga kabataan lalo na’t inaasahan ang muling pagbubukas ng mga paaralan para sa face-to-face classes. Kung marami sa mga kabataan ang mababakunahan, mas tataas ang kumpiyansa ng mga mag-aaral at kanilang mga magulang,” he added.
Considering the damage inflicted by typhoon Odette in several parts of the country, Gatchalian is also urging the National Task Force Against COVID-19 to help Odette-hit LGUs in the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines for 5-to-11-year-old children. The lawmaker emphasized the urgency of vaccinating children in Odette-hit areas because they have to deal with the combined threats of both COVID-19 and the aftermath of the typhoon.