Group urges gov’t to ensure vaccination of children amid rise in COVID-19 cases
MANILA, Philippines — Children should have sure access to immunization especially at this time when there is a rise in COVID-19 infections among the youth, Save the Children Philippines, a child rights advocacy group, said on Wednesday.
“We call on the government to ensure that all children will have safe and inclusive access to basic childhood vaccines and receive routine immunization for vaccine-preventable diseases, even at the time of pandemic,” Alberto Muyot, chief executive of the group said in a statement.
Muyot also underscored the importance of faster COVID-19 immunization for adults as this would make it faster for children and adolescents to rise on the vaccination priority list.
“We also emphasize our call to parents, guardians, caregivers, and communities for them to act more responsibly around children by strictly adhering to the minimum health and safety protocols to protect themselves and their children from the imminent threats of the Delta variant,” Muyot said.
Citing data from the Department of Health (DOH), the group said over 48,000 young people aged 19 and below had acquired COVID-19 as of February 2021.
Of this number, 40.2 percent are 15 to 20 years old, 17.4 percent are 5 to 9 years old, and 18.5 percent are 4 years old and younger.
Meanwhile, globally, children account for up to 15 percent of confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Save the Children said that while children were not classified under “high-risk groups” and most Filipino children infected with COVID-19 showed only mild symptoms, there is a growing concern that the highly contagious Delta variant would be more fatal to children, especially to those with comorbidities or who are less than a year old since their immune response is either compromised or not yet developed.
“The symptoms of children should not be disregarded,” said Dr. Cecilia Francisco, director for Thematic Programs of Save the Children Philippines.
“Children with COVID-19 generally have milder effects and better prognosis than adults but those who have underlying diseases have higher risks [of experiencing] severe illnesses,” added Francisco.
The Philippines is currently in the middle of another surge in COVID-19 cases due to the more transmissible Delta variant.
Earlier, the DOH said that a total of 1,776,495 cases of COVID-19 have been recorded as of Aug. 18, after logging more than 11,000 new cases. This includes 105,151 active cases, 1,640,721 recoveries, and 30,623 deaths.
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