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Inoculation of minors at hospitals questioned

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Vaccinating minors against Covid-19 inside hospitals only exposes them more to the highly contagious disease, former Health chief and Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin said on Wednesday.

The former Secretary of the Department of Health (DoH) questioned why the government opted to roll out the vaccines to minors aged 12 to 17 with underlying medical conditions inside hospitals, which are confined spaces, rather than in existing vaccination centers.

“The hospitals, as we have known, is one of the main Petri dishes of the Covid-19 transmission, which means that is where the disease is being transmitted. That’s where sick people go for consultation, even those who have yet to know they are infected with Covid-19,” Garin said in a television interview.

“I really don’t see the logic why we have to unnecessarily expose our teenagers especially those with comorbidities in a hospital setting,” she added.

The lawmaker-doctor underscored that “flow of air” is “very crucial” in places where anti-Covid-19 jabs are being administered.

“This will overload our already overloaded hospitals. I believe we are the only country vaccinating our teens in hospitals,” she stressed.

“If you put them in a hospital and stay up to 30 minutes or an hour, they will be exposed to a lot of pathogens. I don’t think the benefits outweigh the risks,” she added.

The solon averred that minors with comorbidities are best inoculated in existing vaccination centers since it is also where senior citizens and patients with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) have received their vaccines.

Moreover, people getting their jabs in these centers are “clinically well people” and would help prevent further hospital congestion, she noted.

Why NCR only?

Garin also questioned why vaccination of teenagers has to be limited in the National Capital Region (NCR), which is no longer the epicenter of Covid-19 in the country.

She urged the government to distribute vaccines that are sitting idle in Visayas and Mindanao regions where access to vaccines remains a problem.

The pilot run of pediatric vaccination began last 15 October in eight hospitals in NCR, namely, Philippine Children’s Medical Center, National Children’s Hospital, Philippine Heart Center, Pasig City Children’s Hospital, Fe Del Mundo Medical Center, Philippine General Hospital, St. Luke’s Medical Center (Bonifacio Global City) and Makati Medical Center.

President Rodrigo Duterte announced that the pediatric inoculation will soon expand to 13 more hospitals in Metro Manila.

Meanwhile, 15 hospitals and healthcare facilities will join phase 2 of the pilot run of the vaccination of the pediatric population with comorbidities, National Vaccination Operation Center Dr. Kezia Rosario said Wednesday.

“Our current census for phase 2, we have 23 hospitals, including the hospitals that will continue from phase 1,” Rosario said at the Laging Handa public briefing.

She said each local government unit (LGU) in the NCR has already prepared their hospitals which will serve as their vaccination sites.

“We have several LGU that have negotiated with us to use several of their nearby facilities due to the limitation of spaces in their hospitals,” she added.

Rosario assured the public that children who will get vaccinated in non-hospital vaccination sites will be properly taken care of as these are located near hospitals.

with Jom Garner

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