Afraid of COVID-19 risks, Zamboanga academics beg parents to have kids jabbed

Academics in Zamboanga City on Thursday, November 11, begged parents to make sure their children would get inoculated in consideration of teachers who have been exposing themselves to risks of COVID-19 infections.

“Teachers are putting their lives in danger every time they go out to distribute modules. They go to the schools even when campus activities have been suspended and there are no face-to-face classes. We are all in this together,” said Sarah Handang, a schools division supervisor of the Department of Education for Zamboanga.

The Zamboanga City Health Office started this week the walk-in COVID-19 vaccination rollout for children and teenagers, with ages ranging from 12 to 17 years.

Handang said her appeal was due to the agony that her family went through when COVID-19 struck in her home.

She said five members of her household caught COVID-19, and she lost a grandchild to the deadly virus.

Handang said the virus struck at a time when Zamboanga City’s hospitals were overwhelmed with patients and there was a shortage of medical-grade oxygens in the hospitals that have run out of spaces for COVID-19 patients.

She said all of them, except her grandson, were sent home because there was no vacancy. 

When her grandson died, Handang said, what was left of his oxygen was used on her.

Handang said parents, particularly those living in barangays with a relatively high number of COVID-19 cases, should waste no time in sending their children to the vaccination centers.

Leah Panaguiton, a professor at the Jesuit-run Ateneo de Zamboanga University, also appealed to students to get inoculated this early in anticipation of face-to-face classes next year. 

Panaguiton said her family too went through weeks of difficulty because her mother, a senior citizen, was weakened, lost her sense of smell and taste, and her cognitive functions when she contracted the virus. The woman, incidentally, was fully vaccinated and survived her bout with COVID-19.

“It was the longest 11 days for my siblings and me by far although we were assured by those who took care of her that she would get through because she was fully vaccinated,” she said.

Panaguiton said, “To those who are still unvaccinated, I urge you to get inoculated. It will protect you from the severe effects of the virus.”

Teacher Myrna Dinapo of the Don Pablo Lorenzo Memorial High School said face-to-face classroom learning was inevitable, and one way to also counter COVID-19 infection is to get vaccinated. 

Dr. Dulce Miravite, city health officer, the walk-in vaccination of minors without comorbidities started on Monday, November 8.

Zamboanga’s public health frontline workers also started administering jabs to adults who merely walked in at two popular fast food outlets in Santa Cruz and Guiwan on Thursday, November 11.

Only some 28% of Zamboanga City’s 694,696 target vaccination beneficiaries have been fully vaccinated.

The CHO said at least 503,934 doses of vaccines have been administered in Zamboanga City as of Monday, November 8. But of these, 306,114 people were still waiting to get their second doses.

Frencie Carreon is a Mindanao-based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship

Vaccination for teenagers with comorbidities began in Zamboanga City in five areas as identified by the City Health Office. Photo courtesy of Christine Lim of CHO. 

Frencie Carreon

Carreon is a Mindanao-based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship.