The country officially kicked off the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination of all children and adolescents in Metro Manila aged 12 to 17 on Wednesday, Nov. 3.
Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr., vaccine czar and chief implementer of the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19, and Paranaque City Mayor Edwin Olivarez led the ceremonial vaccination of the general pediatric sector at SM Sucat in Paranaque City.
“We are not only protecting our lives, we are not only protecting our economy, but we are also protecting our future. That’s one of the most important things. Our future are our children, our future are our youth, our future is our vaccination. Kailangan protektahan natin iyon (We need to protect it),” Galvez said before the vaccination program began.
The vaccination program for the pediatric sector was initially launched on Oct. 15 but only those who have comorbidities or underlying medical conditions were prioritized in the capital region.
Now, Galvez said all children and adolescents will be eligible to be vaccinated in 137 hospitals that are designated as vaccination sites.
He said the face-to-face classes can finally be pushed through amid the pandemic if the vaccination program turns out to be successful. On Friday, Nov. 5, the vaccination program for the general pediatric sector will be rolled out nationwide.
“Pangalagaan natin ang kalusugan ng mga bata para maituloy po ang face-to-face class education nila. Sa education, malaki ang magiging epekto nito sa susunod na henerasyon (Let us take care of our children’s health so that we can pursue the face-to-face classes. In the education sector, this [vaccination program] will have a big effect in the generations to come),” he said.
Galvez said the pediatric vaccination will help protect the younger generation from the more contagious Delta variant of COVID-19. When the Delta variant wrought havoc in August, children’s hospitals were overwhelmed and over 30 percent of the admissions at the Philippine General Hospital were children, according to Galvez.
He said the vaccination program will also contribute to the recovery of the economy as around 30 million consumers belong to the younger generation. Among the sectors to benefit include kids’ parks, staycations, resorts, and other outdoor travel destinations for the young population.
The government aims to vaccinate a total of 12,722,070 individuals in the pediatric population by the end of November. Of this, around 1.3 million are in Metro Manila, 1.6 million in Calabarzon (Region 4A), and 1.2 million in Central Luzon (Region 3).
So far, the government has already vaccinated 37,964 children and adolescents with comorbidities.
“Gusto po natin matapos ng November. Pangatawanan po natin ang sinabi natin na by November tapos na ang vaccination ng children (We want to finish it by November. We will stand by our statement that we will finish the vaccination of our children by November),” Galvez said.
The vaccine czar said the vaccination of the pediatric sector will also help the younger generation to avoid developing mental problems due to lack of interaction with other people.
“Magtulong-tulong po tayo kasi napakahirap po na nakakulong ang ating mga bata sa ating bahay. Ang kanyang mental development apektado at marami nagdedevelop ng depression (Let us work together because it is really difficult to keep our children at home. Their mental development will be affected and many of them will develop depression),” Galvez stated.