Pangilinan pushes vaccination of Filipino children vs COVID-19

Published August 5, 2021, 2:03 PM

by Mario Casayuran

Opposition Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan on Thursday, August 5, appealed to government to start vaccinations for Filipino children against COVID-19 as the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) reports full capacity of ICU beds for children infected with the novel coronavirus.

Senator Francis Pangilinan (Senate of the Philippines)

“Under the guidance of health experts, would it be possible to also start vaccinating our children 12 to 15 years old?” Pangilinan asked.

‘’Given how highly transmissible the Delta variant is, a lockdown alone will not be enough. We need aid. We need more testing. We need more vaccines. We need to ramp up vaccinations and possibly start including our children too,” he said.

In June, the Department of Health (DOH) said the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on May 28 amended the emergency use authorization (EUA) of Pfizer to include the 12-15 age group, based on the recommendation of a panel of vaccine experts. The original EUA issued to Pfizer indicated its use for those 16 years and older.

‘’We are glad that the we have vaccinated over 673,000 Filipinos in one day last Tuesday. Let’s continue this vaccination campaign. Also increase our testing and contact-tracing, and we’ll also work toward adding more support to our healthcare system,” Pangilinan said.

Pangilinan also commits to pushing for an increase in the budget of PGH, the country’s premier COVID-19 referral center, in the upcoming 2022 budget deliberations.

The lack of Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds is worrying especially now when even children are affected by Covid. Clearly PGH and other hospitals need more support,” he said.

The PGH on Tuesday, August 3, has registered a full capacity of its COVID-19 ICUs for children.

At present, the PGH has only eight allocated beds for pediatric COVID-19 patients.

“Ang budget lamang ng PGH para sa taong ito ay P6.87 billion (PGH has only P6.87 billion budget this year). On top of being a COVID-19 referral center, syempre nariyan pa rin ang daily operations ng ospital (it also has to have daily operations expenditures). If we aim to reform our healthcare system, we should start by giving more budget to where it is needed the most — lalo na kung buhay ng ating mga kabataan ang nakataya (Especially when the lives of our young are at stake),” Pangilinan said.

The budget of the PGH is under the appropriations for the University of the Philippines System.

For 2021, it has seen a budget increase of P2.9 billion from its P4 billion budget in 2020. Its budget for 2018 and 2019 are only P3 billion and P3.2 billion respectively.

As of August 4, the Philippines has reported 1,619,824 COVID-19 cases. Delta variant cases are at 216, with 17 active cases.