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Gov't urged to schedule nat'l COVID-19 vax drive for kid aged 5 to 11

The government should schedule National COVID-19 Vaccination Days for children aged 5 to 11 years old for speedy inoculation, the Philippine Medical Association (PMA) said Wednesday.

PMA president Dr. Benito Atienza made the call as the government is eyeing to start COVID-19 vaccination of children aged 5 to 11 years old by February 4.

So far, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) only issued emergency use to one COVID-19 vaccine brand, Pfizer-BioNTech, for the age group.

"We had a townhall meeting with the Health department and health workers, including doctors, in Southern Tagalong yesterday. We are hoping that there will be National Vaccination Days for this age group so the parents can accompany their children in vaccination centers," Atienza said during the Laging Handa briefing.

"We really need more spacious vaccination centers for these children because children of this age group have the tendency to have a short attention span. It would be best if there is a video they can watch while they wait for their turn," he added.

Atienza then said that an intensified information drive on safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines is also needed to convince parents and guardians to have the children vaccinated against COVID-19.

"We should strengthen the information drive because there are parents who are still hesitant to have their children vaccinated," he said.

Atienza said such COVID-19 National Vaccination Days should be scheduled on weekends so as not to run in conflict with the work schedule of the parents or guardians.

"We hope it will be done on Saturdays so the parents and guardians will have the time to bring their children to the vaccination areas," the PMA president said.

Atienza also urged the government to hold the vaccination of minors with comorbidities at separate hospitals.

“Kung may comorbidity, direkta na, na-screen tapos sila na din ang magbakuna. Rather than pupunta doon sa pediatrician… magpapa screen, then pupunta sa vaccination center,” he said in a separate interview Thursday.

(If there is comorbidity, they should be vaccinated after being screened. Rather than going to the pediatrician, getting screened, and then going to the vaccination center.)

He said this was also being suggested by the Philippine Pediatric Society.

“Na mag allot po tayo ng mga hospitals para sa mga may comorbidity kasi ito ‘yung ating priority sa age group na 5 to 11,” he said.

“Then the rest po kung wala naman comorbidity, they go to the vaccination centers,” he added.

Atienza said that there are around 12 million to 13 million Filipino children aged 5 to 11 years old.

The government had earlier set two rounds of National Vaccination Days in November and December last year to ramp up the country's COVID-19 vaccination efforts.

The Duterte administration is eyeing to fully vaccinate 90 million Filipinos, including children aged 5 to 11 years old, by June 30, 2022 or the last day of President Rodrigo Duterte's term in office. — with Joahna Lei Casilao/KBK/RSJ, GMA News