DOH urged to expedite inoculation of kids

(Joseph B.A. Marzan photo)

By John Noel E. Herrera

As the restrictions and health protocols against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic ease, Iloilo 3rd District Rep. Lorenz Defensor urged the Department of Health (DOH) to expedite the vaccination among children below five years old.

During the House Committee on Appropriations hearing on Monday, Sept 12, 2022, Defensor told DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire to speed up the inoculation of children below five years old as they are more prone to COVID-19 with health protocols gradually relaxed.

Defensor said that with the eased protocols, unvaccinated children are becoming more exposed to infections, especially with the gradual opening of schools, including pre-schools and nurseries.

He also emphasized the importance of vaccines as he expressed his concerns over the 20 million doses of expired vaccines worth P13 billion.

He explained that the funds that were used for the expired vaccines could have been used for other projects and programs, as everyone is still trying to cope with economic problems.

Defensor also set an example of how the United States was using the Pfizer and Moderna brands of vaccines for the vaccination of children aged six months and above.

“They are already using these vaccines for children’s six months and above. We are also using and have procured these vaccines, so why can’t we use them as well for our kids? This is crucial as the health protocols started to ease,” the congressman said as he emphasized that two percent or 93,000 COVID-19 cases were composed of children.

He added that he does not want the numbers to increase only because the vaccination in that age range has not yet started in the Philippines.

“I do not want that to increase. I want the parents to have the choice to have their children vaccinated if the vaccines and policy for vaccinating kids five years old and below are already available,” Defensor said.

Defensor, however, clarified that once the DOH started the vaccine rollout, the vaccination is still voluntary and it is up to the parents to decide whether they will allow their kids to be vaccinated or not.

The DOH also admitted in the committee hearing that they have not yet made a policy regarding the said issue but the health department assured that they will act immediately on it as they understood the urgency.

Only children aged five and above are eligible to take COVID-19 vaccines in the country so far as the vaccination of these eligible kids started last Jan 2022.