COVID-19 vaccination of minors also aims to prevent mental health problems – Galvez

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MANILA, Philippines – Vaccinating minors against COVID-19 is also a way to prevent them from developing mental health problems by allowing them to return to normal activities, Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said in a recorded briefing with President Rodrigo Duterte which aired Monday evening.

“We want to mitigate the social risk for children, parents and the elderly. We see these young people and their mental health is suffering, ”said Galvez, the government’s main COVID-19 response implementer, speaking in a mixture of English and Filipino.

“We really need to give them some latitude so that they can move around to play and study and also to socialize with their friends,” he added.

According to Galvez, the under-18s are really among the smaller age groups, as classes have moved to a remote setup. And when strict closures are in place, only those who work with essential industries are allowed out.

“Also, to recover the lost time of our children. We saw that for almost two years they were restricted. We saw that. Even if we ask psychologists, we have seen that cases of depression have increased by over 300 to 400 percent, most of them have developed depression, ”he said.

“So the cases of depression and also the suicidal tendencies have increased in our children,” he added.

In August 2021, the National Center for Mental Health said the calls it had received regarding mental health issues had increased four times since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, regardless of age.

Last March, the United Nations International Children’s Fund (Unicef) said the government’s home care policies could have a negative impact on children’s growth and mental health.

READ: The other wave: Mental health hotlines get busier

READ: Unicef ​​worries about new stay-at-home policy for minors in Metro Manila

The national government has already started vaccinating minors between the ages of 12 and 17 against COVID-19, although only those with co-morbidities are given priority.

As of Monday, 9,928 minors had been inoculated with the COVID-19 vaccine – and only 10 minor side effects were recorded.

READ: DOH records 10 minor adverse reactions in 9,928 children vaccinated against COVID-19

Earlier, the Department of Health (DOH) said it had started considering expanding pediatric vaccination outside of Metro Manila by the end of the week.

READ: DOH considers rollout of COVID-19 vaccination for children beyond NCR

According to Galvez, another benefit of immunizing minors is that it will allow the resumption of face-to-face classes, which will help revive the education industry.

“We want to open schools early and protect the economy of our education sector. As we have seen, many private schools have closed and there are ancillary businesses that have also closed, ”he said.

COVID-19 cases in the country, especially in metro Manila, have declined significantly after the Delta variant outbreak last August and September.

On Saturday, analysis group OCTA Research said the reproduction rate for the Philippines as a whole fell to 0.52.

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COVID-19 reproduction number in PH drops to 0.52 – OCTA Research

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