The Quezon City government is requesting the national government to allocate or procure additional vaccines to include children.

Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte made the call after Philippine vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. told the House of Representatives on Thursday that the Philippines is raising its vaccination target to 90% of the population to reach herd immunity as advocated by health experts because of the Delta variant.

She also cited a report from the City Epidemiology and Disease Surveillance Unit (CESU) that more than 12,000 minors in the city had COVID-19.

The mayor said that including children in the vaccination program is crucial since minors comprise 30% of the city’s population.

“What health experts are now pushing for can not be achieved in our city if we will not allow children or those below 18 years old to get COVID-19 vaccines, and help them as well from getting seriously sick from the virus,” Belmonte said.

Latest data from CESU showed that as of September 8, the city has recorded a total of 12,608 cases of COVID-19 among children aged 0 to 17.

Currently, 1,327 are active cases between August 26 and September 8. Of which, 48 cases are aged less than a year old; 597 are one to 10 years old; and 682 are 11 to 17 years old.

Yesterday, CESU confirmed that 122 residents at the Gentle Hands Orphanage tested positive, including 23 staff members and 99 youths age 18 years and below. The orphanage has a total of 163 residents including both children and personnel, of which 143 were tested by CESU for COVID-19. Of those tested, 118 tested positive plus the four index cases bring the total positive cases to 122. Three male staff allegedly went out of the orphanage to get their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine last August 13. Six days later one of the children developed symptoms.

Belmonte said the local government is ready to start inoculating children once it receives the guidelines or ‘go signal’ from the national government.

“We understand that there is a vaccine shortage at the moment but once our country gets a regular supply of vaccines with FDA approval for vaccinating 17 and below we should consider this right away. We need to protect our children given that they are directly or indirectly exposed,” Belmonte said.

“Sa ngayon, habang naghihintay tayo ng rekomendasyon mula sa national government, patuloy nating pinapalawak ang COVID response ng lungsod,” she added, noting efforts such as expanded isolation facilities for children and families and expanded swab testing.

Further, Belmonte appealed to the public to report immediately to CESU if they know of anyone who is manifesting symptoms.

CESU can be reached via their official Facebook page and QC Contact Tracing HOTLINES 8703-2759, 8703-4398, 0916-122-8628, 0908-639-8086, and 0931-095-7737.