(MNS Photo)

MANILA, Oct 14 (Mabuhay) — Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Chair J. Prospero de Vera III on Wednesday urged college students to get vaccinated against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) in preparation for the expanded face-to-face classes in selected degree programs.

In his speech at a vaccination program in Mabalacat City College in Pampanga, de Vera said vaccination is one of the factors for the low infection rate among the first batch of students who attended in-person classes for medicine and health science degree programs.

“Sa awa ng Diyos, ang infection rate sa mga estudyante ay less than one percent, it’s 0.3 percent and it’s 1.4 percent sa mga faculty. Walang naospital, walang namatay, lahat (By God’s grace, the infection rate among students is less than one percent, it’s 0.3 percent and it’s 1.4 percent among the faculty. Nobody was hospitalized, no one died, all) asymptomatic,” he said.

“Unang-una mahigpit ang (First of all, there are strict) guidelines, also the students and faculty for medicine and allied health science courses are classified as A1, essential healthcare workers so they got vaccinated,” he added.

In January, President Rodrigo Duterte approved the implementation of face-to-face classes for medicine and health allied courses after the CHED and the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases inspected classrooms and facilities which have been retrofitted to ensure safe learning during the pandemic.

READ: Covid-19 vax to protect students during F2F classes: Palace

Some 181 schools have been authorized to open physical classes and more than 20,000 students were allowed to attend.

On September 21, Duterte approved the opening of limited face-to-face classes for engineer and technology programs, Hotel and Restaurant Management, Tourism Management and Maritime programs.

“Malaking grupo po ito ng mga (This is a big group of) students because engineering is a very big program in most universities,” de Vera said. “Overall, almost 40 degree programs can now have limited face to face classes, all fields of engineering, industrial technology, maritime, hrm are all now allowed and the schools now are applying and retrofitting.”

Since the start of face-to-face classes in selected degree programs, the commission has been monitoring the vaccination outcomes in schools, with about 1,500 higher education institutions (HEIs) reporting about their vaccination statistics.

“The good news is in some schools, the vaccination level is very high, as high as 90 plus percent. And, 53 percent of our HEIS have reported a vaccination level of more than 75 percent among their personnel,” he said.

However, vaccination is quite uneven across geographic areas as some places recording high inoculation rates while others have low rates such as Aklan State University with only 30 percent of its students and faculty vaccinated.

The CHED is studying whether the low vaccination turnout is due to a lack of vaccine supply or lack of coordination of the HEIs with their local governments.

“Now that there are more vaccines, we want to make they’re correctly distributed, that they’re availed of and that we target our students. that’s why we thank Mabalacat city college for bringing 800 students today to be vaccinated,” de Vera said.

To bring the message of vaccination to the public, the CHED would be doing roadshows in different universities nationwide.

Next week, the commission would lead the vaccination of student-athletes of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines.

“We ask our students to be ambassadors of vaccination to everyone, so that slowly, kapag nabakunahan po natin ang marami unti-unti po natin maibabalik ang pagbubukas ng ating mga eskwelahan (when we’re able to vaccinate many, we can bring back the opening of schools) for limited face-to-face [classes],” de Vera said. (MNS)

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