VACCINATING CHILDREN TOWARDS HERD IMMUNITY
The Department of Health’s announcement about the vaccination rollout for children aged five to 11 years old is a welcome development towards attaining herd immunity or population protection amidst the surging Covid-19 cases in the county.
Beginning Feb. 4, the rollout of the Pfizer vaccine will start in Metro Manila, with the government applying its experience in vaccinating minors aged 12 to 17 years old.Nationwide, the government targets to vaccinate 14.7 million children in that age group.
We hope there will be a high turnout of vaccinees in that age group once the national Inter-Agency Task Force gives its green signal for the vaccination roll-out in the highlands.
In Baguio City, around 4,744 individuals from the five to 11 age group have registered for vaccination while Benguet and the rest of the Cordillera provinces have started enlisting in preparation for the regionwide rollout.
Globally, the World Health Organization reported that inoculating the five to 11 age group would help in achieving the target of 70 percent total population vaccinated by mid 2022.
With misinformation and disinformation about the pandemic and the efficacy of the vaccines circulating over social media, proper information education campaign on the benefits of vaccines must be sustained in all fronts.
As the country grapples with increased Covid-19 cases at the beginning of the year, the DOH noted the number of critical cases has gone down owing it to the vaccination efforts of the various local government units.
Vaccine hesitancy rate has gone down from last year’s 36 percent to eight percent this year, which tells us that the public is slowly made aware of the benefits of vaccines.
In its interim statement on Covid-19 vaccination for children and adolescents, the WHO said that the direct health benefit of inoculating the younger age group is lower compared with vaccinating adults because of the lower incidence of severe Covid-19 and deaths in younger persons.
We share the view of the WHO when it outlined the benefits of vaccinating minors including reducing transmission from children and teens to adults, minimizing disruption to education, and maintaining their overall well-being.
Ramping up vaccination efforts would also help ease economy and help open up schools for face-to-face classes in the nearest future while the country is slowly adjusting to distance learning.
In spite of the prolonged pandemic, we laud the Department of Education leadership for supporting the vaccination of the pediatric population, as it acknowledged that it is among the best preparations for in-person classes. Our neighboring countries Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, and South Korea have also started inoculating the pediatric population.
With this, Vietnam has opened up some of its provinces with low pandemic level for in-person classes from kindergarten to high school levels.
Let us then continue to support the government’s vaccination effort and rely on scientific data on the efficacy of vaccines against Covid-19 and its variants.
Of course, vaccination alone would not help in curbing the pandemic. We are also to observe minimum public health safety at all times—proper wearing of masks, cough etiquette, hand hygiene, and social distancing.
Two years into the pandemic, this must already be ingrained in our system whenever we leave our houses. The virus is living in our midst, but with the scientific community’s up-to-date information, government policies and our cooperation as citizens, we could be able to live with it and see better days ahead.