THE government kicked off yesterday the vaccination of college students in the country amid the increase in the number of college courses and programs that are now allowed to hold face-to-face classes nationwide.
Commission on Higher Education (CHED) chairman Prospero De Vera, National Task Force against coronavirus disease chief implementer and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. and Sen.
Sherwin Gatchalian led the ceremonies that saw 800 students aged 18 years old and above from the Mabalacat Community College in Pampanga being vaccinated in the morning.
Another batch of 800 students from the Our Lady of Fatima University in San Fernando also in Pampanga were vaccinated in the afternoon.
De Vera said a similar vaccination event for college students will kick off in Davao today, and at the University of the Philippines in Quezon City next week.
“We should all get vaccinated and that is the only way by which we can start opening up the higher education system,” he said.
CHED said 181 universities and colleges nationwide have either started holding limited face-to-face classes or are now preparing to welcome back students who are enrolled in 301 degree programs courses, such as medicine and allied health sciences-related, engineering and technology-related; hospitality, hotel and restaurant management-related; tourism and travel management-related, and marine engineering and marine transportation-related.
De Vera in-person classes will be expanded to cover at least 20 to 30 more college courses or programs, and a joint team of the CHED, Department of Health (DOH) and local government units are now inspecting schools that will be permitted to hold limited face-to-face classes.
The government pilot-tested in-campus classes with 11 medicine and allied health sciences degree programs in January, but the President approved its expansion in colleges and universities in areas under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) or places with high vaccination rates.
“If we can do this (student vaccination) rapidly all over the country, we can reach the target before the end of the year. That will usher in a safer Christmas and that will usher a better educational system,” De Vera said.
The government plans to have faculty members and college students, especially those participating in face-to-face classes, vaccinated between October and November.
Galvez urged students all over the country to help the government in encouraging other people, especially their family members or friends, who have yet to be inoculated to be vaccinated.
He promised that more vaccines will be deployed in provinces such as Pampanga and Bulacan to vaccinate more students this October.
The country has already received 87.69 million doses of vaccines as of October 12 and administered 50.066 million doses nationwide. More than with 23.36 million individuals or 30.38 percent of the eligible population are now fully vaccinated.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the government has already opened the vaccination to the general public, and with the availability of more vaccines now, there is no more reason not to be inoculated.
Galvez said with the steady arrival of vaccines, the government will be able to launch on Friday the experimental implementation of pediatric vaccination starting with the 15 to 17- year-old age group.
The pilot test will be done in eight hospitals in Metro Manila, which will then be expanded to cover 12 to 14 years old after a week.