As more children are getting infected with COVID-19, the government is eyeing to vaccinate minors aged 12 to 17 by the middle of October, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said.
The pandemic task force official presented the proposal to President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday, September 22. Galvez said that around 20 million more COVID-19 vaccines are set to arrive until the first week of October.
"We are experiencing saturation point in NCR and other cities. Meaning, parang nagmi-meet na po, sir, 'yung demand at saka 'yung supply. Meaning, kailangan na po nating mag-open ng other sectors," Galvez said.
(We are already experiencing a saturation point in vaccination in the National Capital Region and other cities. That means we're already meeting the demand and supply of the vaccines, and we already need to open other sectors for vaccination.)
He added: "We are proposing, Mr. President, to open up the vaccination for children by mid of October," noting that the vaccine supplies are enough to cover some 12 million minors between 12 and 17 years old.
Galvez, however, said that priority will be given to children with comorbidities.
COVID-19 vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna have been granted emergency use authorization for minors as young as 12 years old in June and September, respectively. Despite this, the government had said that its vaccination strategy would still prioritize vulnerable groups due to limited vaccine supply. (READ: To protect kids vs COVID-19, doctors say PH should vaccinate more adults)
This development comes as the Philippines plans to reopen up to 120 schools for limited face-to-face classes in a pilot run approved by Duterte.
Prior to this, the Philippines was one of the last two countries in the world that had yet to reopen schools since the World Health Organization declared the pandemic in March 2020.
The education department has yet to release the list of schools that would participate in the pilot run as well as the start date.
The Philippine government has been criticized for its pandemic response, with critics saying that the school closure in the country reflects misplaced priorities and failed management of the health crisis.