Joseph Peter Calleja, Manila
Updated: October 18, 2021 09:29 AM GMT
A man signs school documents while his children aged 9 and 10 look on at their home in Quezon City, suburban Manila, ahead of another school year of remote lessons in the country due to the pandemic. (Photo: AFP)
The Philippines has begun vaccinating minors aged 12-17 as part of its latest effort to tackle the spread of Covid-19 and get children who have been stuck at home for more than a year back to school.
The Health Department announced on Oct. 18 that more than 1,500 minors had received jabs at the weekend after health experts said the vaccine was safe to be administered to them.
Health chiefs say they initially plan to inoculate at least 1.5 million children within the next three months.
Up to 1.2 million children with underlying conditions that put them at risk from the virus will be the first to receive the vaccine to protect them from its severe effects.
“We have a total of 1,509 children that have already been vaccinated. It is a good sign that parents and children alike have faith in our vaccines,” health undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told TeleRadyo.
Vergeire said only four children experienced adverse reactions, which were minor and successfully treated.
According to the United Nations, the Philippines is one of 17 countries where schools have remained shut throughout the pandemic
“We hope we encourage as many children with health risks as possible to get inoculated,” she added.
She said the Health Department was circulating a list of chronic conditions which she said would ensure children suffering from them would receive vaccination priority.
The list includes autoimmune disorders, neurologic conditions, metabolic and endocrine conditions, cardiovascular disease, obesity, tuberculosis, chronic respiratory diseases, renal disorders, diabetes and cancer.
The government hopes the vaccination drive will help enable schools to reopen safely following a shutdown that took place shortly after the outbreak began early last year.
According to the United Nations, the Philippines is one of 17 countries where schools have remained shut throughout the pandemic.
Next month the government aims to reopen 120 schools for face-to-face classes as part of a pilot project. It is hoped the vaccination program will help facilitate this effort.
The Philippines has been one of the worst-hit countries during the Covid-19 pandemic with more than 2.7 million infections and 40,000 fatalities. Of those infected, nearly 8 percent were aged 10-19.
The Philippines has so far fully vaccinated 24.3 million people, while 27.8 million had received their first dose as of Oct. 17, according to the latest government figures.
Most of those vaccinated have received the Chinese-made Sinovac vaccine.
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