The Iloilo City Government on Monday, October 4, said it aimed to start giving COVID-19 vaccines to minors aged 12 to 17 years old this month.
In a virtual press conference, the city government’s COVID-19 focal person, Dr. Roland Jay Fortuna, said around 25,000 minors have signed up for COVID-19 inoculation.
Pre-registration is currently being held in malls, public plazas, and barangay halls, the same manner of pre-registering adults since earlier in the year.
Executive Order No. 115 series of 2021 issued by Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas prohibits those aged under 18 years to leave their homes, thus pre-registration for their vaccinations are currently being handled by their parents.
Fortuna said that the national government was eyeing the middle of October to start vaccinating these minors.
“For the vaccination of minors, apparently it’s being planned to roll out vaccinations in the middle of October. That is why we are encouraging all 12 to 17-year-olds to register at malls and barangays. If the minors cannot enter the malls, the parents can register for them. They just need to bring their child’s credentials, like birth certificate and identification card,” said Fortuna.
He added that the vaccinations would be conducted in two to three vaccination sites, separately from adults, citing Department of Health (DOH) guidance that these must be done near hospitals.
“One of the requirements, currently, is that vaccinations will be near the hospitals. I don’t know why the DOH needs that, but maybe it’s their preparation for any adverse reaction for the minors,” he said.
Iloilo City was not included in the pilot areas for vaccination of minors, but he said that Treñas has been asking the DOH to include the city.
The mayor had been sending out letters in the past months, asking the national government to kickstart the vaccination of minors.
Once vaccinations start in the city, Fortuna said that there would be no pilot areas, and that all resident minors aged 12 to 17 would be served.
“Right now, as far as we know, [the national government] has pilot areas, Cebu, Davao, and [the National Capital Region]. Iloilo City has not been included, but Mayor Jerry Treñas has been asking to include the city in the pilot areas so we can start immunizing those 12 to 17 years old,” he said.
The city government’s data as of October 2, 2021 showed that 252,288 individuals have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. This is 48.05 percent of their target population (525,000).
No guidelines yet
But the Department of Health-Western Visayas Center for Health Development (DOH-WV CHD) says that as of this time, the DOH central office has yet to finalize their guidelines for vaccinating those below 18 years of age.
Aside from Iloilo City, the local governments of Bacolod City and Negros Occidental have also started signing up minors for vaccination.
The DOH-WV CHD’s designated spokesperson, Dr. Daphynie Teorima, said that in the meantime, they will focus on unvaccinated adults.
But she clarified that they have already set that the priority for COVID-19 vaccination among minors should be given to those with co-morbidities.
“We would like to emphasize that as of now, the first of the 12 to 17-year-olds are those with comorbidities, such as medical complexities, like the adults who have many illnesses (sic). Not all children will be given [COVID-19 vaccines] immediately, we still have to finish all of our adults who have not been vaccinated yet,” Teorima said during the DOH-WV CHD’s online series Isyung Bakuna.
Teorima also refused to disclose the hospitals that the regional office was considering for the vaccinations, to avoid the risk of crowding at these hospitals while their guidelines have not been released.
She did mention that their target population of all 12 to 17-year-olds in the region was at 370,000, based on the total population projections.
Two COVID vaccines have been authorized by the Food and Drug Administration to be given to those aged 12 to 17 years, including Comirnaty (Pfizer/BioNTech) and mRNA-1273 (Moderna). – Rappler.com