900,000 minors in Central Visayas targeted for Covid-19 vaccination

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THE Visayas Covid-19 Vaccination Operations Center (VVOC) aims to vaccinate more than 900,000 minors aged 12 to 17 in Central Visayas under the pediatric vaccination program against coronavirus disease (Covid-19), a health official said Friday, Oct. 29, 2021.

This comes after the Cebu City Government began its vaccination of 100 minors with comorbidities aged 12 to 17 on Friday.

Despite Cebu City already starting its pediatric vaccination, Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, VVOC spokesperson, said the official rollout date for the pediatric vaccination in Central Visayas remains Nov. 3, with Nov. 5 being the date for the full nationwide implementation.

Loreche described the target of December 2021 to vaccinate 80 percent of the target population as a “tall order.”

Central Visayas has 929,826 minors aged 12 to 17, with or without comorbidities. This is the projected 2021 population by the Philippine Statistics Authority.

Loreche said generating the master list of the youths is ongoing.

In Cebu City, Dr. Jeffrey Ibones, head of the City Health Department, said the vaccination of thousands of minors aged 12 to 17 would begin next week, following the successful vaccination of 100 children with comorbidities at the behavioral sciences building of the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center on Friday, Oct. 29.

Cebu City’s pediatric vaccination Friday was held simultaneously with the vaccination of children of the same age group in the provinces of Siquijor, Bohol and Negros Oriental undertaken under the supervision of the Department of Health Central Visayas (DOH 7).

Ibones said with the release of the DOH guidelines on pediatric vaccination, here in Cebu City, such vaccination will be conducted at vaccination sites near hospitals. These are the University of Cebu-Alcantara, which is very close to St. Vincent Hospital, Southwestern University Phinma near Sacred Heart Hospital, and Ayala Center Cebu, which is close to Perpetual Succour Hospital.

In these venues, which are already vaccination sites for adults, Ibones said they will use a separate space for minors.

Minors with co-morbidities must bring a medical certificate from their doctor, while the parent or guardian accompanying the minor to the vaccination site must present an identification card.

Citing the guidelines from the National Vaccination Operations Center, the VVOC’s Loreche said fixed vaccination sites, temporary posts and mobile vaccination are part of the vaccination strategy against Covid-19.

Documentary prerequisites include proof of filiation like birth certificate, baptismal certificate and identification cards, among others.

The vaccination process includes health education, informed consent and assent form signing and thorough health screening.

Vaccination sites with adult vaccination must also provide separate lanes for pediatric vaccination, tailor-fit vaccination areas to accommodate the parents/guardians accompanying the minors, and use a separate vaccine carrier for the pediatric vaccination.

The vaccination site should have sufficient assistive devices/equipment such as wheelchairs and handrails to aid the vaccine recipients in the vicinity.

For Phases 2 and 3, non-hospital vaccination sites should conduct mandatory simulation exercises prior to implementation for AEFI (adverse event following immunization) Rapid Response. Pediatric subspecialists (e.g. allergologists, infectious disease specialists etc.) should be available on site for AEFI case management.

Without the signed informed consent of the parent/guardian or any individual authorized to exercise as the substitute parental authority, the Covid-19 vaccination of the vaccine recipient (12-17 years old with comorbidities) shall be deferred.

If the vaccine recipient does not give his/her assent, he/she shall not be coerced to receive the Covid-19 vaccine.

If the vaccine recipient is not capable of giving assent due to neurological comorbidities and moderate to severe intellectual impairment, the parent or authorized parental substitute can sign in his/her behalf.

Loreche said the vaccination team must ensure that the vaccine recipient and the parents/guardians, prior to the vaccine administration, are informed of the benefits, risks and possible side effects of the Covid-19 vaccine. (CTL)

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