Limited face-to-face classes require vaccination of over 90% of students

LIMITED FACE-TO-FACE CLASSES in Higher Educational Institutions is the ultimate goal of the vaccination of college students in Catanduanes, which was started last week at the CatSU Vaccination Center. One of the 1,200 students and employees receives her Sputnik jab from nurse Joman Lavarias during the ceremonial vaccination on Oct. 5, 2021 as witnessed by (left to right) Camille Andrea Gianan (who represented Cong. Hector Sanchez), Virac Mayor Sinforoso Sarmiento Jr., Governor Joseph Cua, CHED-5 Regional Director Dr. Freddie Bernal, CatSU President Dr. Patrick Alain Azanza and CHED Education Supervisor II Dr. Pamela Sorra-Viñas. Also present during the ceremony that set off the day-long vaccination activity were DOH Provincial Officer Dr. Robert John Aquino ( 2nd from right) and other CatSU officials.

Limited face-to-face classes in all degree programs in Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs) will soon be allowed provided there should be a high vaccination rate among faculty and students, among others.
In his message during the ceremonial vaccination of students at the Catanduanes State University last Nov. 5, 2021, Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Regional Director Dr. Freddie Bernal, there should be low COVID-19 cases in the locality, aside from the school’s retrofitting of its facilities pursuant to a Joint Memorandum Circular between CHED and the Department of Health (DOH) and the support or concurrence of the local government unit concerned.
“We are calling on all HEIs in Bicol to have their teaching and non-teaching staff and their students to be vaccinated,” he said, pushing for a vaccination rate of at least 90 percent.
He also appealed to HEIs with the capability to establish their own vaccination centers like the CatSU, especially those already authorized to open limited face-to-face classes in medical and allied health sciences, engineering, tourism, hotel and restaurant management, marine transportation, and technology programs.
Dr. Bernal informed that CHED Chairman Prospero de Vera III has already lobbied with NTF Chief Implementor Carlito Galvez for the allocation of additional vaccines for state universities and colleges as well as private HEIs.
However, he said that the opening of such classes at 50% room capacity is also dependent on the LGUs strictly implementing the Minimum Public Health Standards and its citizens showing self-discipline and cooperation with the authorities.
The CHED director commended CatSU for holding the second ceremonial vaccination of students in Bicol after the Ago Medical and Educational Center (AMEC) in Legazpi City which had the same on Nov. 4.
The AMEC event, however, was largely ceremonial, Bernal clarified, as it had far fewer participants than the CatSU vaccination of students which actually began on Nov. 4.
He stressed that these events signal the start of CHED’s aggressive plan to speed up the vaccination at HEIs in preparation for the opening of limited face-to-face classes.
Earlier, CatSU President Dr. Patrick Alain Azanza bared that the DOH and Governor Joseph Cua have assured a steady supply of vaccines for the university’s rollout for its more than 11,000 students.
Only 17% of them have been vaccinated prior to the event, with the vaccination rate to rise to 28% by the end of Friday, he said.
In urging students to have themselves vaccinated so they can feel safe despite the seriousness of the pandemic, Azanza recalled the pain of losing a young relative, a nursing student, to COVID-19.
In his remarks, Gov. Cua reiterated his call for everyone to get vaccinated as the province is currently classified as a high-risk area under Alert Level 4.
Saying he did does not intend to alarm everyone but to raise the awareness on how vital it is to be vaccinated, the governor said vaccination would be the province’s most effective shield against COVID-19.
In asking students, teachers and university officials to appeal to the rest of the population to get the jab, Cua disclosed that the government has even gone to the extent of giving away free rice in far-flung barangays just to convince the people to get vaccinated.
For his part, Congressman Hector Sanchez, represented by his district chief of staff Camille Andrea Gianan, assured his continuous support for the vaccination effort by requesting the national government for larger allocations of vaccines for Catanduanes,
Virac Mayor Sinforoso Sarmiento Jr., on the other hand, expressed his administration’s determination to achieve herd immunity in the capital town despite its lack of health personnel, with its vaccination team even working as late as 9PM.
He reminded participants of the difficulty of implementing quarantine restrictions as he appealed for his constituents to get vaccinated regardless of the type of vaccine.
DOH Provincial Officer Dr. Robert John Aquino said that to speed up the vaccination campaign, the DOH Catanduanes Care program has been launched to deploy mobile vaccination teams to isolated villages of the province.
He likewise recalled how the CatSU vaccination post got accredited and thanked the members of the Covax team and volunteers for their efforts.
He said that the DOH regional office has recognized CatSU as one of the stakeholders in the vaccination drive in the Bicol region.
CatSU established its campus-based vaccination center and got the nod of the local health authorities after passing the simulation stage on Aug. 13.
The team, headed by Dr. Felix III Ma, is composed of personnel from the Medical and Dental Services and augmented by volunteers and nursing students from, the College of Health Sciences and other CatSU offices, with the participation of the DOH, Eastern Bicol Medical Center, Philippine Red Cross Catanduanes Chapter, the Catanduanes Medical Society, the Philippine Nurses Association, and the Philippine Army
Beginning with its first vaccination rollout on Aug. 17 until Nov. 5, the CatSU vaccination team has administered COVID-19 jabs to over a thousand people, including nearly 400 teaching and non-teaching employees as well as about 700 students.
Latest data shows that 95% of CatSU’s teaching and non-teaching employees have been fully vaccinated.
The vaccination status of the 11,000 students, on the other hand, is still being verified.

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