Gatchalian to gov’t: Prepare LGUs for COVID-19 vaccination of minors

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Sunday urged the government to start preparing local government units (LGUs) for the proper rollout of coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines to minors.

Gatchalian made the call following the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of Moderna vaccines for the inoculation of minors aged 12 to 17.

At this point, the senator said preparations should start at the level of LGUs, with the crucial involvement of the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19, the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Education (DepEd).

The senator has repeatedly lobbied for the inoculation of minors highlighting the need for government to ensure the safety of the younger population and to address the long-term impact of school closures.

“At this point, I can see that one of the solutions to open our schools safely is to already inoculate our teenagers,” Gatchalian said in a statement.

“My call is to allow LGUs, and private schools to import their own their vaccines and to inoculate their own teachers, their own school officials, as well as their own students and their own teenage population,” he said.

The lawmaker said vaccinating school age children would also lay down a clearer path on the gradual resumption of face-to-face classes.

“This way, it will hasten the vaccine rollout in our schools and the LGUs,” said the Senate committee on basic education, arts and culture chief.

Aside from Moderna, the FDA has approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for the inoculation of minors aged 12 to 15. China-based Sinovac has also applied for authorization to use its COVID-19 vaccine for children and minors aged 3 to 17 years.

Based on a Pulse Asia Survey commissioned by Gatchalian—which was conducted from June 7-16 and had 1,200 respondents—show that those who wish to resume face-to-face classes is at 44 percent, while 33 percent are unsure. Twenty-three percent (23 percent) on the other hand disagree to the proposal.

The senator said that among those who disagree with face-to-face classes, 90 percent believe it is still too dangerous to go out due to the pandemic, while 57 percent cited the lack of vaccines for children.