Sen. Win Gatchalian urged local government units (LGUs) to prepare for the vaccination of children aged five to 11, which he said would be crucial in boosting confidence in safely reopening schools amid the threat of the Omicron variant.

He made this call after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for the inoculation of children aged five to 11. 

The Department of Health (DOH) said last November that it is targeting to vaccinate 13.5 million in this age group. Prior to this recent FDA approval, the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were used to inoculate minors in the 12 to 17 age group.

In a Senate panel hearing on the expansion of face-to-face classes held on December 17, the DOH reported that 7.1 million minors aged 12 to 17 have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, with 2.7 million of them now fully vaccinated. 

There are 12.7 million minors in the 12 to 17 age group.

“Now that the vaccination against COVID-19 for aged five to 11 has been approved, the next step would be the local  government’s preparations for the vaccination,” said Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture.

He stressed it is timely to have children vaccinated especially with the opening of face-to-face classes. 

Considering the damage inflicted by typhoon Odette in several parts of the country, Gatchalian is also urging the National Task Force Against COVID-19 to help Odette-hit LGUs in the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines for 5-to-11-year-old children. 

The lawmaker emphasized the urgency of vaccinating children in Odette-hit areas because they have to deal with the combined threats of both COVID-19 and the aftermath of the typhoon.