Gatchalian to gov't: Protect minors from Delta variant, boost vaccine supply now

Published August 1, 2021, 11:25 AM

by Hannah Torregoza 

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Sunday called on the government to start vaccinating minors following the detection of more cases of the Delta variant of COVID-19 in the country.

Gatchalian said it is highly necessary to prevent minors from becoming “variant factories.”

“By the time we get enough supply we can already vaccinate teenagers,” said Gatchalian, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture.

“And this is a very crucial stage in going back to face-to-face classes,” he further said.

The senator pointed out that since schools are surrounded by economic activities such as the use of transportation and the operation of small businesses, vaccinating students will provide an added layer of protection.

That is why, aside from ensuring there would be sufficient vaccine supplies to cover minors, the lawmaker said it is more important to ensure that protocols and systems, especially among local government units (LGUs) are in place.

“The kids might not get infected as fast as science says, but their parents, the shopkeepers, the sari-sari store owners, they might be susceptible to the virus spread,” he pointed out.

“So that’s why the approach to school opening should be very cautious and the step forward to that is to launch pilot schools in zero COVID areas,” the senator emphasized.

The lawmaker noted that the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Department of Health (DOH) are now crafting the guidelines for the gradual reintroduction of face-to-face classes.

According to DepEd, at least 100 schools are set to participate in the pilot study of limited face-to-face classes once President Durterte gives his approval.

The Philippine Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) has approved

the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for use on adolescents aged 12 to 15.

The government is eyeing to use 20 million of Pfizer doses for minors. Chinese drug manufacturer Sinovac also applied for authorization to use its vaccine CoronaVac on minors aged 3 to 17. [Hannah L. Torregoza]