The Department of Education (DepEd) expressed full support to the scheduled rollout of the vaccination program for children aged five to 11 against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in February.
“Nakaganda naman ng feedback lalo na sa mga magulang, mga local government units and of course, national policy natin na talagang isama yung mga bata kaya kami ay talagang handa (The feedback has been good especially from parents, local government units and of course, our national policy is to really include the children so we are really ready),” said Education Secretary Leonor Briones during the “Laging Handa” public briefing on Friday, Jan. 28.
Briones said that DepEd has a “very close” coordination with the office of the National Task Force (NTF) against COVID-19 chief implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. on the planned vaccination of children in the younger age group.
DepEd, Briones said, has been working very closely with the NTF which is in charge of the country’s vaccination program against COVID-19 — as well as with the Department of Health (DOH) — in this initiative.
“Sila ang nakakaalam ng supply, sila ang nagko-coordinate ang vaccination sites, and of course, we want the assurance na ang aming learners, teaching staff sa department, ay safe kaya tuloy-tuloy ang pag-implement ng polisiya na ito at handa kami (They are the ones who know the supply, they are the ones who coordinate the vaccination sites, and of course, we want the assurance that our learners, teaching staff in the department, are safe so the implementation of this policy will continue and we are ready),” Briones said.
Citing data from DepEd’s Planning Service Office, Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan said that there are about 14 million children aged five to 11 years old in the basic education system.
“We welcome itong announcement na mag-u-umpisa na nga itong para sa 5 to 11 years old bilang dagdag doon sa 12 to 17 (We welcome this announcement that [the vaccination] for 5 to 11 years old will already start in addition to those 12 to 17),” Malaluan said.
Malaluan also explained that this initiative would play a crucial role in the safe school reopening efforts of DepEd.
He explained that part of the agreement with DOH on the expansion phase of limited face-to-face classes in basic education is that “vaccination of all of our learners is preferred.
Malaluan said that DepEd also secured the commitment from DOH and the NTF commitment that the inoculation of children against COVID-19 is part of the government’s priority when it comes to its vaccination program.