Teachers, school staff in pilot run of in-person classes should be fully vaxxed vs COVID-19 — DepEd

Robie de Guzman   •   September 27, 2021   •   190

MANILA, Philippines — All teachers and school personnel who will be participating in the pilot run of face-to-face classes should be vaccinated against COVID-19, the Department of Education (DepEd) said Monday.

During a joint presser held by DepEd and the Department of Health (DOH), Education Secretary Leonor Briones said teachers joining the dry run need to be vaccinated against COVID-19. They should also be under 65 years old without any co-morbidities.

“I believe that if we will push through with this pilot study, we must ensure that the teachers, the staff, the officials who will deal with children, have to be vaccinated,” Briones said.

“This was agreed on by the DepEd and DOH that vaccinations should be there to ensure the safety of our children,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in the same press event.

DepEd earlier said that COVID-19 vaccinations will not be mandatory for teaching and non-teaching personnel joining the pilot test.

The DOH, however, said that regular, mandatory testing for teachers and students is still not being discussed.

“We still follow our risk-based testing protocols. We do not recommend the regular testing of students and even teachers and non-teaching personnel in order for them to go to schools,” Vergeire said.

She assured that contingency plans are being prepared to ensure the prevention of infections in schools during the pilot test.

The DepEd has been preparing to conduct a dry run for limited physical classes in areas classified as low-risk for COVID-19.

The pilot run will be implemented in 100 public elementary schools, from kindergarten to Grade 3, five public senior high schools, and 20 private schools.

The number of students participating in the program will also be limited, with consent from parents.

Under the approved guidelines, Kindergarten classes will include 12 learners, while Grades 1 to 3 classes will have 16 students. Technical-Vocation classes in five senior high schools may have 20 learners.

Learners in Kindergarten to Grade 3 will only spend a maximum of 3 hours in school while senior high school students will have 4 hours.

The pilot will feature a combined implementation of face-to-face classes and distance learning.

The dry run will be carried out for two months.

The government has yet to announce the exact date of the pilot run for physical classes, as well as the list of participating schools.

Physical classes in most schools in the country have been suspended since the pandemic due to the threat of novel coronavirus disease.

DOH says HTAC recommendations on vaccine booster, third shots to be updated

Robie de Guzman   •   October 28, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The recommendation of the Health Technology Assessment Council (HTAC) on the implementation of COVID-19 vaccine boosters and third doses are still interim and will be updated, the Department of Health (DOH) said Thursday.

In a statement, the DOH clarified that HTAC’s recommendations only serve as a guide to sectorial planning and will be revised pending assessment from the Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the amendment of Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).

It will also be updated based on the recommendation from the World Health Organization Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (WHO SAGE) expected this November, it added.

The DOH earlier said the EUA of vaccines must first be amended to state the number of doses that must be administered as part of the series. A letter of intent for the application of the EUA has been submitted to the FDA.

The DOH said that the formal recommendation on boosters will have to be adapted into a policy with operational plans

While waiting for the guidelines on boosters, the DOH reiterated that reaching eligible unvaccinated individuals 12 years old and above should be prioritized.

“The primary series of vaccines far outweigh the incremental benefit of boosters. We have to prioritize giving the primary series of these COVID-19 vaccines to the unvaccinated so they, too, can receive the additional protection that vaccines provide against hospitalizations and deaths,” said DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.

On the mixing and matching of vaccine brands for boosters, the department said that it will depend on FDA’s final assessment of the evidence submitted by the DOH All Experts Group.

DOH: Minors with health risks inoculated vs. COVID-19 now at 18K

Robie de Guzman   •   October 27, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Over 18,000 minors with co-morbidities have so far received their first dose of vaccine against COVID-19 since the program was launched on Oct. 15, the Department of Health (DOH) said.

In a statement, the DOH said that a total of 18,666 children aged 12 to 17 years old have been inoculated during the initial phase of the pediatric vaccination in the National Capital Region (NCR).

The vaccination drive is now on its second phase with 26 hospitals administering COVID-19 vaccines to the pediatric sector.

The DOH said the nationwide rollout of COVID-19 vaccination among children will begin on Nov. 3.

“Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will still be used among children during the nationwide rollout,” DOH Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Singh-Vergeire said in the same statement.

“Further details and the guidelines with regard to the nationwide expansion of pediatric vaccination will be released once finalized,” she added.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), there are around 12.7 million children aged 12 to 17 in 2021.

Meanwhile, the DOH continues to urge the adult population, especially those belonging to priority groups A2 and A3, to get vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to achieve the cocoon effect, which protects the children at home.

The department further emphasized that “choosing to get vaccinated will not only protect the person itself but also those around, along with the strict and religious adherence to minimum public health standards and other preventive measures implemented.”

The National Task Force against COVID-19 earlier said that the national government aims to complete the vaccination of children within this age group by December.

Nationwide rollout of COVID-19 vaccination for minors set for Nov. 3 – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   October 27, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The nationwide rollout of COVID-19 vaccination among children will begin on Nov. 3, the Department of Health (DOH) said Wednesday.

In a statement, the DOH said it will implement the national rollout for minors aged 12 to 17 years old with co-morbidity with the government’s vaccine cluster.

“Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will still be used among children during the nationwide rollout,” said DOH Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Singh-Vergeire.

“Further details and the guidelines with regard to the nationwide expansion of pediatric vaccination will be released once finalized,” she added.

The DOH said that as of Oct. 26, a total of 18,666 minors with comorbidities received their first dose of vaccine during the initial phase of the pediatric vaccination in the NCR.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), there are around 12.7 million children aged 12 to 17 in 2021.

Meanwhile, the DOH continues to urge the adult population, especially those belonging to priority groups A2 and A3, to get vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to achieve the cocoon effect, which protects the children at home.

The department further emphasized that “choosing to get vaccinated will not only protect the person itself but also those around, along with the strict and religious adherence to minimum public health standards and other preventive measures implemented.”

The National Task Force against COVID-19 earlier said that the national government aims to complete the vaccination of children within this age group by December.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez also said that vaccinating children against coronavirus disease will also be instrumental in the reopening of face-to-face classes and ‘ancillary businesses’ related to the education sector.

He also said that allowing children to have “leeway to move around and play” will not just help in protecting the mental well-being of minors, but also revive economic activities especially this holiday season.

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