MANILA – The Philippine government on Wednesday rolled out its coronavirus vaccination for student-athletes, starting with the member schools of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP).
Six students received their first dose of Moderna vaccine at the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) office as part of the latter's "Padyak para sa Flexible Learning: Sama-samang Vaccination Program, student-athlete edition".
The UAAP is planning to open its basketball competition by mid-February 2022, while volleyball is targeted after Holy Week.
UAAP Season 84 president Emmanuel Calanog said they are waiting for the approval of CHED and other government agencies to resume training.
In a press conference, CHED Chairperson J. Prospero de Vera III said the government is in talks with the UAAP and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) to "tweak" the existing guidelines for the resumption of training for collegiate athletes.
He said it would be amended to adapt to the increase in the vaccination rate among the population.
"Ngayon na madami nang nava-vaccinate na student-athletes, the only thing we have to do is to tweak the guidelines. We're not starting from scratch (Now that there are many people getting vaccinated, the only thing we need to do is to tweak it. We're not starting from scratch)," he said.
"The UAAP, NCAA, and CHED have been working on that since last year so it should be easy to put it. But the bottom line is we must vaccinate the student-athletes and the rest of the education stakeholder," he added.
De Vera said the government is set to inoculate more in the coming days, including the athletes from NCAA.
To join the initiative, the official advised other schools to coordinate with CHED or their local government units and submit their own list.
De La Salle University student and taekwondo jin Dylan Reyes, 21, said it was a good thing the CHED initiative came as he had been waiting for his first dose for a long time.
"Actually sobrang tagal ko na ring naghihintay (I've been waiting for a long time). I mean most of this year, I've been waiting because most of my teammates have already been vaccinated with their LGUs. Ako kasi (I’m) from the province, fortunately, they have this," he told the Philippine News Agency (PNA).
"Nakakatuwa naman kasi feel ko naman 'yong support ng mga various departments pati CHED at UAAP sa pag-vaccinate ng mga student-athletes. Hopefully, makapaglaro na kami soon (I can feel the support from various departments, including CHED and UAAP in vaccinating the student-athletes. Hopefully, we get to play soon) " he added.
Apart from Reyes, the following student-athletes were also vaccinated: Elij Peña (University of Santo Tomas), John Paulo Alvara (National University), Joshua Yerro (Adamson), John Paul Salabsab (Far Eastern University), and Emmanuel Samson (FEU).
Also gracing the ceremonial vaccination were National Task Force against Covid-19 chief implementer, Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr., CHED Executive Director Cinderella Filipina Benitez-Jaro, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian and Philippine Sports Commission Chairperson William Ramirez. (PNA)