MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Education (DepEd) said on Friday, January 28, that some 14 million basic education students aged 5 to 11 are eligible for COVID-19 vaccination that would start on February 4.
“Ang datos natin mula sa Planning service ay 14 milyon na bata ang 5 to 11 years old na nasa basic education…. Kasama doon sa expanded phase ang agreement natin with DOH (Department of Health) is that vaccination of students [joining the limited face-to-face classes] is preferred,” Education Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan said in a televised briefing aired on state-run PTV4.
(The data that we have from the Planning Service unit is that there are 14 million basic students aged 5 to 11. Included in the agreement for the expanded phases with the DOH is that vaccination of students joining the limited face-to-face classes is preferred.)
Malaluan said that the DOH and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. committed to the DepEd that students would be prioritized for COVID-19 vaccination.
“Saklaw na natin ang kinder hanggang grade 12 (The vaccination covers kinder to grade 12),” he added.
The vaccination of kids is welcome news as the DepEd has planned to eventually transition to limited face-to-face classes by school year 2022 to 2023. The country just began vaccinating 12- to 17-year-olds in October 2021.
In the case of teachers, 67.02% have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The DepEd said that a total of 970,694 teaching and non-teaching personnel are eligible for vaccination.
On September 27, 2021, the DepEd said that the Philippine government would require teaching and non-teaching personnel who will participate in the pilot run of limited face-to-face classes to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
On November 15, 2021, a total of 287 public and private schools started limited face-to-face classes in a pilot run approved by President Rodrigo Duterte. The government suspended in-person classes in Metro Manila and other Alert Level 3 areas starting January 2, 2022, due to rising COVID-19 cases driven by the highly contagious Omicron variant.
Prior to the approval of limited face-to-face classes, the Philippines was among the last two countries in the world to hold limited physical classes since the pandemic began in March 2020. The Philippines has been doing distance learning since the health crisis started.
Malaluan said that the planned COVID-19 vaccination for kids aged 5 to 11 would help build confidence among parents to allow their children to join the pilot run. Duterte recently allowed the expansion phase of the limited face-to-face. The DepEd has yet to give the updated list of schools that have been allowed to hold in-person classes. – Rappler.com