ADULTS line up inside a movie house that has been turned into a vaccination site at a shopping mall in Quezon City on Sept. 23, 2021. Aside from commercial establishments such as malls, local governments have been tapping various venues and schemes for the coronavirus vaccination program, including drive-thru, house-to-house service for the elderly, and village-level delivery. — PHILIPPINE STAR/ MICHAEL VARCAS

THE PHILIPPINES’ vaccine chief is asking the national government to begin the vaccination of children aged 12 to 17 by mid-October.

Priority would be given to minors with comorbidities and children of health workers once President Rodrigo R. Duterte approves the proposal, vaccine czar Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. said at a televised Cabinet meeting on Wednesday night.

“We are experiencing saturation point in National Capital Region and other cities,” Mr. Galvez said.

He explained that demand and supply of vaccines against the coronavirus are now at meeting point, which means sectors other than the four priority groups can be opened.  

The Philippines will have enough supply of coronavirus vaccines to inoculate 12 million children aged 12 to 17, he said.

The country is struggling to vaccinate its entire adult population amid a spike in infections believed to be triggered by the highly contagious Delta coronavirus variant.

The first four priority groups cover healthcare workers, senior citizens, persons with comorbidity, and economic frontliners.

Philippine health authorities on Thursday reported 17,441 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total to 2.43 million.

The country’s coronavirus death toll rose to 37,405 after 177 more patients died, while recoveries increased by 14,090 to 2.23 million, the Department of Health (DoH) said in a bulletin.

There were 165,790 active cases, 92.1% of which were mild, 3.1% were asymptomatic, 1.5% were severe, 2.73% were moderate and 0.7% were critical.

DoH said 77 duplicates were removed from the tally, 55 of which were reclassified as recoveries. It added that 88 recoveries were reclassified as deaths. Three laboratories failed to submit data on Sept. 21

The country’s drug regulator has already allowed the vaccines developed by Pfizer, Inc. and Moderna, Inc. to be used for children as young as 12 years.

The government, however, had said that health workers, seniors, people with health complications, among other vulnerable people, would still be prioritized due to supply issues.

The Philippines has received about 65.88 million doses of coronavirus vaccines. About 19.38 million people or 25.12% of the adult population had been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus as of Sept. 22.

On Wednesday night, the country took delivery of 940,680 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine. The Philippines was set to receive 34 million vaccine doses this month. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza