The government has kicked off the second phase of the pediatric vaccination against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) that would cover all localities in the National Capital Region (NCR) on Friday, Oct. 22.

A minor receives a COVID-19 vaccine during the ceremonial vaccination of minors at Cardinal Santos Medical Center on Friday, Oct. 22. (Photo from Department of Health)

Officials from the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Metro Manila Center for Health Development (MM-CHD), National Vaccine Operations Center (NVOC), and some NCR mayors led the ceremonial vaccination of minors in select hospitals in the region.

The DOH said the government is implementing the Pediatric A3 vaccination in a phased approach in order to create strategies on how it will be rolled out to other regions, and possibly to regular vaccination sites.

“As with the vaccination process of the adults, the vaccination for children will be closely monitored to detect adverse events following immunization to ensure the safety of our young vaccine recipients,” said Health Undersecretary Roger Tong-An during the ceremonial vaccination at Cardinal Santos Medical Center.

The government has initially piloted the vaccination of minor with comorbidities in some hospitals in Metro Manila in Oct. 15.

For Phase II, more vaccination sites were added to the eight initial list of hospitals for the pediatric inoculation.

These are Caloocan City Medical Center (North and South), Ospital ng Malabon, Navotas City Hospital, Valenzuela City Emergency Hospital, Marikina Sports Complex which is near Amang Rodriguez Memorial Medical Center, Quezon City General Hospital, St. Luke’s Medical Center Quezon City, Ospital ng Maynila, Ospital ng Makati, SM Megamall Mega Vaccination Site which is near Mandaluyong City Medical Center, Cardinal Santos Medical Center, Ospital ng Muntinlupa, Ospital ng Parañaque 1, University of Perpetual Help System Dalta, and Pasay City General Hospital.

Meanwhile, St. Luke’s Medical Center – Global City will also cater to the Municipality of Pateros.

According to Tong-a, the lockdown has stunted the social growth of the children as they were unable to interact with others due to the threat of the dreaded disease.

“They have not, since the start of the pandemic, been able to go to school through which they are taught to socialize with children and other adults. They have not been able to meet with other family members and relatives due to restrictions. They have not been getting the physical activities that the growing children should,” he said.

Moreover, the DOH official noted that the lockdown may have also affected the mental health of children.

“As such, we are urging that eligible children and adolescents be registered following your hospital’s mechanisms. As with other vaccines, make sure that the doses are completed on schedule,” he said.

“And most importantly, in the time of the pandemic, practice minimum public health standards to protect from getting infected and infecting others with COVID-19 and its variants,” he added.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that some 4,640 minors with pre-existing health conditions have been vaccinated against COVID-19 as of Oct. 20.

The DOH reminds those covered in the Pediatric A3 Group to first secure a vaccination schedule with the hospital and bring their child’s medical certificate detailing their comorbidity.

Likewise, valid IDs of both the child and the parent or guardian must also be provided as well as any proof of filiation like the birth certificate.

The vaccine recipient must also be accompanied by the parent or guardian at the vaccination site.