Gatchalian to COVID-19 task force: Don’t allow walk-ins in vaccination for minors

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian has appealed to the National Task Force Against COVID-19 not to allow “walk-ins” during the roll out of its vaccination program for minors on Friday, October 15.

Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture, said it is imperative for the national and local government leaders to prevent overcrowding in vaccination sites, noting that minors aged 12 to 17 years old with comorbidities are listed in the Pediatric A3 category and would be the first to receive COVID-19 vaccines.

“I would discourage the NTF from doing a first-come, first-served walk-in type of arrangement,” Gatchalian said during a recent Senate hearing.

“We don't allow a walk-in type of arrangement dahil talagang mag-iipon-ipon ang mga tao (because overcrowding is inevitable) especially now that the weather condition is unpredictable at maya’t maya ay umuulan (sometimes it’s raining),” Gatchalian said.

“Let's not do a walk-in type of arrangement because that will really spell disaster at the end,” the senator said.

According to the NTF, there are 12.7 million teenagers in the 12-17 age group. The Department of Health (DOH) said that based on the Global Burden of Disease, 10 percent of those in this age group are estimated to have comorbidities.

So far, eight hospitals have been designated for the first phase of pediatric vaccination from October 15-30: the National Children's Hospital, Philippine Heart Center, Pasig City Children's Hospital, Fe Del Mundo Medical Center, Philippine General Hospital, Makati Medical Center, St. Luke's Medical Center in Taguig, and Philippine Children's Medical Center.

The vaccine rollout in hospitals will begin with the 15-17 age group followed by minors aged 12-14.

As the government eyes to begin its pilot testing of limited face-to-face classes, Gatchalian said it is necessary to pursue the inoculation of the country’s adolescents.

“It’s about time that we vaccinate our teenagers and we support the prioritization of teenagers with comorbidities. What we’re driving at is that we don’t want a scenario wherein they will be lining up in those eight hospitals,” he said.

The Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved two COVID-19 vaccines for use on minors: the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine which it recommended for use on minors aged 12-15, and Moderna’s vaccine which is approved for minors aged 12-17.