(File photo)

MANILA – Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) spokesperson Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya on Monday said the Covid-19 vaccination of minors aged 5 to 11 years old in Metro Manila will be conducted in an initial six locations beginning February 4.

He said vaccination rollout for the said age group will initially be done at the Philippine Heart Center, Philippine Children’s Medical Center, National Children's Hospital, Manila Zoo, SM North EDSA (Skydome), and Fil Oil Gym in San Juan.

Aside from these locations in Metro Manila, Malaya said vaccinations for the minors will also be conducted in 30 locations in Central Luzon and Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon).

“The DOH (Department of Health) will make the formal announcement kung papaano po ang dahan-dahan na pagbubukas ng mga iba't ibang vaccination sites hanggang matapos natin ang vaccination rollout sa buong bansa (The DOH will make the formal announcement on the phase-by-phase opening of the different vaccination sites up to the point that we complete the vaccination rollout in the country)," he said in a Laging Handa public briefing.

He also reminded parents of the minors 5 to 11 years old with comorbidities to present their medical clearances and proof of relationship when having the minors vaccinated.

Crucial for face-to-face classes

In a Palace press briefing, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, who is also acting presidential spokesperson, said the vaccination rollout for 5 to 11 years old would also help children prepare for the resumption of the limited in-person classes.

“Mahalaga po ito sa ating paghahanda sa muling pagbabalik ng face-to-face classes o pisikal na balik-eskwela (It is important for our preparation for the resumption of face-to-face or in-person classes),” Nograles said.

Nograles said the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccines purchased by the Philippine government for the vaccination of children 5 to 11 years old are expected to arrive this week.

“Dahil ito ay reformulated, ito ay sadyang binili upang eksklusibong gamitin para sa pagbabakuna ng mga bata na nasa edad lima hanggang labing-isang taong gulang lamang (Because it is reformulated, it was purchased exclusively for vaccination of children 5 to 11 years old only),” Nograles said.

Nograles, also concurrent spokesperson of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), assured parents that the vaccines are safe and effective.

“The doses for minors have been reformulated so that these are appropriate for them. Ibig sabihin, mas mababa ang dosage na ituturok sa kanila. Kaya kung available na ang mga ito sa inyong mga lugar, dalhin nyo na po ang inyong mga anak sa vaccination sites at sila’y pabakunahan (It means, lower dosage will be administered to them. So if these are available in your areas, bring your children in the vaccination sites),” Nograles said.

Among children aged 12 to 17 years old, he said some 7.5 million are already fully vaccinated, as of January 29.

In total, there are now 126,470,538 doses administered nationwide. More than 60.3 million individuals have already received the first dose, while more than 58.7 million are fully vaccinated, as of January 30, according to the National COVID-19 Vaccination Dashboard.

‘No vax, no ride’ lifted under Alert Level 2

Meanwhile, Malaya said the "no vax, no ride" policy will no longer be in effect once Metro Manila is placed under Alert Level 2 starting February 1.

“The policy is only applicable when the Capital Region is under Alert (Level) 3 or higher," Malaya added.

Metro Manila which has an estimated population of 13 million will be placed on Alert Level 2 from February 1 to 15 along with the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Rizal, Biliran, Southern Leyte, and Basilan.

“Under this alert level, minors are allowed to go outdoors, subject to local government guidelines," Malaya said.

He, however, said the police will continue to man checkpoints in areas under Alert Level 3 “as ordered by President Rodrigo Duterte.’’

Ang payo po ng DILG sa ating mga kababayan, dalhin pa rin po natin iyong mga vaccination card natin dahil baka hihingin po ito sa mga checkpoints (The DILG advises our countrymen to continue carrying your vaccination cards as it might be asked by those manning the checkpoints)," Malaya said. (with reports of Lloyd Caliwan/PNA)