MALACANANG (6 October 2021) — The National Task Force Against COVID-19 has updated the proposed guidelines for the vaccination of the adolescent population in the country which will start on October 15.

During President Rodrigo Duterte’s Talk to the People public address on Wednesday, NTF Chief Implementer and vaccine czar Secretary Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. said the initial rollout of the vaccination for individuals within the 12 to 17 age group will now be launched in eight hospitals in Metro Manila instead of the six facilities that were initially identified.

These hospitals include the National Children’s Hospital, Philippine Heart Center, Pasig City Children’s Hospital, Fe Del Mundo Medical Center, Philippine General Hospital, Makati Medical Center, St. Luke’s Medical Center and Philippine Children’s Medical Center.

“So ito pong mga ospital pong ito, initially six hospitals po ang mga nagpalista. Pero ngayon lahat po ng mga ospital gusto nang magpalista. Even Iloilo at Cebu, gusto po nila magkaroon din ng pilot project sa kanila,” Galvez said.

He noted that the program will prioritize those belonging to the 12 to 17 year-old age bracket with co-morbidities.

“Itong vaccination natin ay napaka-importante. Based sa research ng UP at US, for every five serious cases, isa ang bata,” Galvez said.

“Dahil marami nang na-vaccinate na seniors, ang magiging target ngayon ng COVID ay ang mga unvaccinated. Kaya gusto nating maprotektahan ang mga bata,” he added.

In the updated vaccination prioritization framework, Galvez explained that 12 to 17 year-olds with co-morbidities will be integrated with Priority Group A3, while the rest of the population from the said age group will be included in Priority Group C.

Meanwhile, the rest of the adult population will be collapsed into one category, which is Priority Group B.

Three phase vaccine rollout for the younger population

The vaccine czar said the vaccination for the younger population will be done in three phases to ensure a calibrated, well-monitored and safe rollout.

The first phase covers the pilot launch in the eight hospitals on October 15, beginning with adolescents aged 15 to 17, followed by the 12 to 14 years-old age group.

The next phase is set to be launched on October 22, but this time, all local government units in Metro Manila can already participate.

“Sa second phase, magkakaroon ang lahat ng LGUs sa NCR ng mini-rollout. Noong una, mayroon kaming piniling anim na cities, pero sabi ng NCR they are already prepared to have that pilot project in every city,” Galvez pointed out.

The vaccine czar said the third phase of the vaccination for the younger population will commence on October 29 throughout the National Capital Region, while other regions in the country can also begin on November 5 as long as they have already vaccinated more than 50% of their senior citizens or the A2 priority group.

Among these regions are the Cordillera Administrative Region, Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, CALABARZON, Eastern Visayas, Northern Mindanao and CARAGA.

Galvez believes the vaccination of adolescents will ensure the safe resumption of face-to-face classes, and help boost the nation’s economy.

“Kung mababakunahan natin ang mga bata, tatlo ang magiging implication niyan. One, ‘yung face-to-face classes natin will be sustained and protected,” he said.

“Second, maganda rin sa economy ‘yan dahil 29 million ang consumers na mga bata. Magkakaroon ng consumer confidence para magkaroon ng staycation, at sa mga restaurant ay makakakain ang buong pamilya,” Galvez continued.

“Third ay ‘yung mental health. Dahil lagi lang silang nasa bahay, marami na ang nagkakaroon ng depression. Pumupunta kami sa mga ospital, ang sabi ng mga psychologist ay dumarami ang mga pasyente in terms of mental health,” he added.

The NTF earlier said it plans to allocate 60 million COVID-19 vaccine doses for the inoculation of Filipinos aged 12 to 17.

Steady supply of COVID-19 vaccines

Galvez said he remains confident the national government can achieve its goal of hitting the 100M-mark in terms of vaccine deliveries by the end of October.

He reported that as of October 5, a total of 80,415,200 vaccines have arrived in the Philippines, of which 47,778,751 doses were administered.

Galvez added that 22,402,105 Filipinos have been fully vaccinated, while 25,376,646 have received their first dose.

He said the government is maintaining the accelerated pace of its vaccine rollout with 628,099 vaccine doses administered last October 6. END