Regardless of degree programs, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) said that all tertiary students should be vaccinated against coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
“Our target is 100 percent, all students should be vaccinated,” said CHED Chairman Popoy De Vera in a ceremonial vaccination of college students in Quezon City on Oct. 29.
When it comes to vaccination, De Vera said that schools have been prioritizing students in degree programs that have been allowed to hold limited face-to-face classes.
In January, President Duterte allowed limited face-to-face classes for Medicine and Allied Health Sciences.
Last month, the President also allowed the expansion of limited in-person activities for Engineering and Technology programs, Hospitality/ Hotel and Restaurant Management, Tourism/ Travel Management, Marine Engineering, and Marine Transportation.
“What we are seeing is that in this second batch that the President has approved, what the schools are doing is that they are prioritizing in the second batch of vaccination,” De Vera said.
While this strategy is welcomed by CHED because the schools and students are already “conscious that vaccination is another level of safety,” De Vera said that it would be best if all students will be vaccinated regardless of prioritization.
“Mas maganda, lahat ng estudyante, mabakunahan (It’s better if all students are vaccinated),” De Vera said.
“Wala nang by degree programs, lahat na. Bakunahan na lahat ng estudyante (Don’t do it by degree programs, include all. Let’s vaccinate all students),” he added.
With school-based vaccination now allowed, De Vera expressed optimism that more students will get vaccinated against COVID-19.
“We now have vaccines dedicated for students and vaccination sites in our state universities, these were not happening before and we are doing this to fast track [the vaccination],” he explained.
To further speed up the vaccination of tertiary students, De Vera said that CHED is set to release soon a new set of guidelines to allow students in fourth year Nursing and Medicine students and new graduates to act as vaccinators.
“It will be under joint CHED-DOH guidelines,” De Vera said. “Of course, they will be under the supervision of health professionals so we can have more vaccinators,” he added.
De Vera cited Pamantasan ng Cabuyao where 20 vaccinators simultaneously vaccinated 3,000 students in less than a day. “If we can replicate that in other areas, with more vaccinators, more vaccination sites I think we will be able to reach our target to vaccinate all students,” he said.
CHED already instructed its regional offices to meet virtually with all schools that have Medicine and Nursing programs.
“Schools will make an inventory of how many students can be vaccinators and then they will talk about it,” he said. “Additional vaccinators are needed to increase the daily vaccination,” he added.
The time that students will spend acting as vaccinators will be credited as on-the-job training, De Vera said.
As agreed in the National Task Force Against COVID-19, De Vera said that the government aims to vaccinate at least 80 percent of students by the end of next month. “That is the target we have set and we hope we can get through it,” he added.
Currently, De Vera said that around 30 percent of tertiary students have been vaccinated. “We hope to reach 70 to 80 percent by the end of November,” he added.