CAREFREE. Children play on monkey bars at the Amang Rodriguez Subdivision gym in Marikina City on Thursday (Feb. 24, 2022). Health authorities have been encouraging parents to take their children to open spaces and have them vaccinated against Covid-19 as the country transitions into the new normal, amid the continued decline in infections. (MNS photo)

MANILA, Mar 2 (Mabuhay) — A total of 736,880 children aged 5 to 11 years old have been inoculated against Covid-19 since the pediatric vaccination started on February 7, a health official said Tuesday.

“Inaasahan po natin na tataas pa ito sa darating na mga linggo kaya po ang lahat ng mga magulang at legal guardian ay amin pong hinihikayat na magparehistro na para sa kanila pong mga anak para sa karagdagang proteksiyon para sa lalong madaling panahon (We expect the numbers to rise in the coming weeks so we encourage parents and legal guardians to register their children for additional protection immediately),” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during an online media forum.

Meantime, about 9.5 million adolescents have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

The Department of Health (DOH) also said almost 10 million Filipinos have received so far received booster shots.

It assured the public that all vaccines administered as booster shots are of good quality and can provide additional protection against hospitalization or even death due to Covid-19.

“Those who were vaccinated with AstraZeneca, Gamaleya Sputnik V and light, Moderna and Pfizer, Sinopharm and Sinovac can now receive their booster shots after three months and two months if you were vaccinated with Jansen,” Vergeire said.

She added the fully vaccinated can receive a different brand of Covid-19 as booster shot from their primary doses.

She also reminded the public that adults who are 18 years old and above are eligible to receive their booster shots while children aged 5 to 11 years old may receive their primary series of Covid-19 jabs.

63 million fully vaccinated

As the Resbakuna Program marked its first year anniversary, the DOH said the fully vaccinated Filipinos against Covid-19 reached 63 million.

During its initial phase, the program prioritized inoculating the sectors who are at high risk of Covid-19 infection- the medical frontliners, senior citizens, and people with comorbidities.

To date, data from the National Vaccination Operations Center (NVOC) show that 93 percent of healthcare workers, 62.82 percent of senior citizens, and 92 percent of people with comorbidities have been fully vaccinated, respectively.

“Coming from a peak in the number of cases in January, we now observe a decline as we realize a wider and extensive national vaccination coverage in addition to minimum public health standards. This provides a clearer picture of what the World Health Organization (WHO) had previously envisioned in countries with high vaccination rates, as transmissions of the virus do not automatically lead to pressuring the health system and its capacity,” the DOH said in a news release on Tuesday.

National Vaccination Operations Center (NVOC) Chair and Undersecretary of Health of the Field Implementation and Coordination Team (NCR and Luzon) Myrna C. Cabotaje said with the ongoing efforts of the national government, “we are confident that we will be able to reach our target population as we make the vaccination coverage wider and more accessible for everyone.”

The DOH continues to work towards population protection through programs such as the National Vaccination Days, Resbakuna sa Botika, and vaccination in pharmacies, primary care and occupational health clinics, as well as air, sea, and transportation terminals for the elderly and vulnerable populations.

As Metro Manila and 38 areas are placed under Alert Level 1, the DOH encouraged the public to recognize the importance of staying protected through vaccination and adherence to minimum health standard protocols with the easing of restrictions.

“As the country marks the milestones of the Resbakuna program, I would like to sincerely thank the over 63 million Filipinos who have believed and trusted in our Covid-19 vaccines. I would also like to extend my gratitude to the national government agencies, local government units, civil society organizations, and development partners who took part in making all these possible. To our friends in the private sector, volunteers, and the media, the DOH truly appreciates the magnanimous efforts you have put in to make the program all the more successful. All of these further prove that vaccines and booster shots are still our best long-term solution in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic,” Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III said. (MNS)

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