COVID-19 vaccinations in the Philippines among minors aged 12 to 17 are expected to start soon. This could be a possible game changer for high school-age students who have been kept at home for two pandemic school openings.
However, with the Philippines still lagging behind other countries in terms of vaccinations, how will the government do it?
Due to limited vaccine supply, the national government will start to inoculate children in virus epicenter Metro Manila on October 15, in a pilot rollout approved by President Rodrigo Duterte.
Here's how the pilot run of vaccinations among children will be done in the National Capital Region, based on pronouncements of pandemic task force officials. Rappler will update this story once we get more information.
The COVID-19 vaccinations among minors aged 12 to 17 will begin with children who have underlying medical conditions.
Minors belonging to this group will be considered as part of the government’s A3 category or persons with comorbidities. On Monday, October 4, the health department released the list of comorbidities or preexisting illnesses for which these children would be given priority in COVID-19 vaccinations.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the list was made in consultation with the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society:
In a separate press briefing on Monday, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said that the pilot run would be conducted in the following areas:
In the same briefing, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said that the vaccinations would be done in six hospitals so the children would be closely monitored after their jabs.
Below is the list of hospitals:
"Ilulunsad ito sa mga ospital muna, para kung magkaroon man ng adverse event following immunization, at least nasa loob na po ng ospital at matugunan kung magkaroon man ng emergency," Duque said.
(We will do it in hospitals first so that if there will be adverse event following immunization, at least they are already inside a hospital and we can attend to emergencies immediately.)
The pilot run will start on October 15 and will be done in two phases.
"Uunahin natin by phases: 15 to 17 ang mauuna, then sunod 12 to 14. Dahil sila po ay minor, kailangan po talaga ng parental consent," the health chief said.
(We'll do it in phases. First will be the 15-to-17-year-olds, then followed by those 12 to 14. Because they are minors, parent consent is needed.)
Galvez said that, after 30 days of pilot implementation, the government would roll out the vaccination drive for children in the whole capital region and in some areas in the country that have reached more than 50% vaccinations of their A2 sector or the elderly group.
The pandemic official did not give the specific target for minors to get vaccinated.
"Ang initial natin ay ilang libo lang for the meantime, then oobserbahan natin. Kapag walang adverse effects ay itutuloy natin," he said.
(Our initial target is only thousands for the meantime, then we will observe the implementation. If there are no adverse effects, we will proceed.)
Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairperson Benhur Abalos said that pre-registration for the vaccination for minors had started in some cities in Metro Manila.
"The pre-registration process has been ongoing. It’s just a matter of determining those who have comorbidities," he said.
Parents who want their children vaccinated against COVID-19 may coordinate with their local government units (LGUs) to get enlisted.
In a town hall on pediatric vaccinations on Tuesday, October 12, Dr. Kezia Lorraine Rosario of the DOH said that patients of selected hospitals, where the vaccinations will be done, are eligible for vaccinations.
"And if feasible, vaccination sites can accommodate patients endorsed by City Health Offices with medical certification," she said.
Rosario said that parents may contact the pediatrician/hospital to schedule the vaccination of their child.
Rappler is keeping track of LGUs that have opened their registration for the vaccination. Check this page for more information regarding the registration process. We will update this once we receive more advisories.
The vaccination process for minors is similar with the adult group except that minors need to present a signed consent form from their parent or guardian.
The minors must also be accompanied by their parents or guardian on their vaccination day.
The DOH said that the parent or guardian needs to sign the Informed Consent form and the vaccine recipient needs to sign the Assent form
“If the vaccine recipient shall not give his/her assent, he/she will not be coerced to receive the COVID-19 vaccine,” the DOH said.
Here's what they need to bring:
Aside from these, vaccine recipients are also required to wear a face mask and face shield.
Read Rappler’s series of guides on the Duterte government's vaccine program below:
Read Rappler's series of explainers on the Duterte government's vaccine program below: