The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) underscored the need to get all student-athletes vaccinated against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) first before they are allowed to resume training and participate in the actual games.
In a virtual presser for the ceremonial vaccination of tertiary student-athletes on Wednesday, Oct. 20, CHED Chairman Popoy De Vera said that the Commission and other concerned organizations have been preparing for the resumption of collegiate sports leagues since 2020.
“We're not starting from scratch,” he said, noting that vaccination of student-athletes is a very important step for the resumption of sports-related activities at the tertiary level.
“But we must vaccinate these student athletes and the rest of our education sector - that is non-negotiable,” De Vera added.
De Vera said that with the government now vaccinating student-athletes, this may lead to the “resumption of athletic trainings” and eventually, the actual games.
The vaccination of student-athletes is part of the caravan launched by CHED with theme, “Padyak Para sa Flexible Learning: Sama-samang Vaccination Program.”
“This is one of the continuing Padyak events that we are doing,” De Vera said. CHEd’s vaccination caravan will go around higher education institutions (HEIs) in the country to encourage the students to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
“There is no vaccination hesitancy among the young people and we hope to spread the message that vaccines are available for students,” De Vera said in a mix of English and Filipino.
Vaccination, De Vera added, will also help slowly bring back the students to schools amidst the pandemic because this will “put additional layer of protection” for everyone in the academic community or school setting.
Aside from De Vera, the event was also attended Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, National Task Force for COVID-19 Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr., CHED Executive Director Cinderella Filipina Benitez-Jaro, and University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 84 President Emmanuel Calanog.
Meanwhile, Galvez urged all student-athletes to get vaccinated against COVID-19 so they will be allowed to resume training. “One unvaccinated individual puts others at risk,” he said.
Galvez also reiterated the government's full support to vaccinate all college students. He also assured CHED that vaccine supplies will be distributed to HEIs in need once the NTF has been informed about it.
Likewise, Gatchalian also expressed full support to CHED’s vaccination drive, noting that “vaccination is the only way to go back face-to-face classes.”
The ceremonial COVID-19 vaccination of UAAP student-athletes took place at the CHED main office in Quezon City. In the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman - College of Human Kinetics, some 300 students were also vaccinated.
With the continued vaccination of student-athletes, Calanog said the UAAP aims to start the training for basketball student-athletes on Nov. 1 given that they are all vaccinated against COVID-19.
Calanog said that vaccinated student-athletes will be placed in a training bubble.
He added that depending on the vaccination of student-athletes, guidelines, and retrofitting of sports facilities, the UAAP may be allowed to begin basketball games by mid-February in 2022.