UP set to administer COVID-19 booster jabs for A2, A3 populations

UP set to administer COVID-19 booster jabs for A2, A3 populations

The UP College of Human Kinetics (CHK) gym has been selected by the Quezon City local government as a vaccination site for its city-wide COVID-19 booster shot rollout from Nov. 25 to Nov. 27

This is in addition to the Philippine government recently announcing its three-day “Bayanihan, Bakunahan” national vaccination drive from Nov. 29 to Dec. 1, for which UP Diliman (UPD) will also serve as an inoculation site during the entire duration.

In an email exchange with DZUP, the UP Office of the Vice Chancellor for Community Affairs added that the Nov. 29 schedule will exclusively be for the booster shot inoculation of UPD faculty, REPS, and employees who are among the eligible priority groups.

According to Dr. Maria Dulce Natividad, project head of “Bakunahan sa Diliman,” only the booster shot rollout for the aforementioned UPD constituents will be prioritized for the time being.

“We don’t have a schedule yet for the regular vaccination. The focus of the QC campaign this week until next is the administration of booster shots. We will know after next week if the LGU can still provide vaccines for first doses,” she said.

Eligible booster recipients

The Department of Health (DOH) announced the expansion of the COVID-19 booster inoculation to senior citizens (A2) and persons with comorbidities (A3) beginning Monday, Nov. 22. 

This comes after healthcare workers and essential frontliners (A1) were initially permitted to receive their booster shots. 

READ: PH requires COVID-19 vaccination for on-site workers – DZUP

In the latest DOH public advisory released on Nov. 21, key guidelines for the expanded booster shot rollout were explained.

Apart from the A1 population, only the following people who are fully vaccinated may be administered with the COVID-19 booster shots as of writing:

  1. Booster doses to senior citizens: and
  2. Additional or third dose as part of the primary series to individuals with comorbidities in immunocompromised state.
    • Immunodeficiency state
    • People living with HIV
    • Active cancer or malignancy
    • Transplant patients 
    • Patients under immunosuppressive treatments

Included in the advisory is the prescribed schedule and combination of vaccine doses relative to the primary series they initially received.

Photo from the Department of Health

The DOH and National COVID-19 Vaccination Operations Center reiterate that the booster shot rollout is “not yet available for the general population.” DZUP

CHED approves face-to-face training for UAAP, NCAA athletes

CHED approves face-to-face training for UAAP, NCAA athletes

The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) approved the conduct of face-to-face training sessions for collegiate student-athletes, provided that strict health and safety protocols are observed.

This comes after the continued easing of alert level classifications in the National Capital Region, which now permits contact sports under Alert Level 2.  

The latest development potentially paves the way for the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) to host limited sporting competitions by the first quarter of 2022.

An athletic vaccination drive led by CHED for UAAP and NCAA student-athletes has already been completed. This is a key step in allowing leagues to resume their activities.

Stringent guidelines

CHED released its official four-step resumption flowchart for colleges and universities to begin holding their respective face-to-face training sessions.

Photo from Commission on Higher Education Sports

Varsity teams are required to submit the following requirements:

  • Self-assessment report forms of higher education institutions (HEIs)
  • Letter of intent to resume training and competition with sworn statement on strict adherence to health and safety protocols
  • Sample health declaration forms to be accomplished by participating team members and staff after each scheduled activity 
  • Proof of document of the activity with clearances from local government units (LGUs)

Once the above-mentioned documents have been secured and submitted, CHED will spearhead ocular inspections of the prospective training sites.

The commission will take the following considerations into account:

  • Engineering control and occupancy capacity of training venues
  • Dormitories and housing facilities for student-athletes
  • Transportation of food and beverages
  • Study areas with stable Internet connection
  • Available mental health services

The issuance of an acknowledgment certification by CHED serves as the last step before contact training sessions are permitted.

All persons who are set to partake in these activities must yield a negative RT-PCR test or undergo a 14-day quarantine period. 

READ: CHED bares conditions for face-to-face classes under Alert Level 2

Designated training venues must have temperature check stations and screening areas, with regular disinfection practices prior to and after every session.

Furthermore, participating HEIs are obliged to equip their training sites with hygiene kits and health monitoring logbooks.

UAAP Season 84 is tentatively slated to begin in February 2022. Additional implementing guidelines are set to be released soon. DZUP

UPD University Council condemns withdrawal of ‘subversive’ library resources

UPD University Council condemns withdrawal of ‘subversive’ library resources

The UP Diliman University Council (UC) denounced the removal of ‘subversive’ learning materials from the libraries of state universities nationwide.

The said council is led by UPD Chancellor Fidel Nemenzo, its acting chairperson, and a governing body of professors, associate professors, and assistant professors from the constituent university.

In their official statement, the UC expressed their profound support for councils, colleges, and offices alike on the said matter.

READ: UPD calls out removal of ‘subversive’ resources from libraries – DZUP

“The University Council of the University of the Philippines Diliman (UPD UC) supports the recent statements of the UPD School of Library and Information Studies (SLIS), UPD Office of the Chancellor Executive Staff (OCES), and UP System-wide University Library Council in denouncing the removal of books in the libraries of three higher education institutions (HEIs),” the UC said.

‘Betrayal of academic freedom’

The council offered its response to the pronouncements of Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Chairman Prospero “Popoy” de Vera III regarding the issue.

According to the UC, CHED failed to uphold its mandate of defending academic freedom upon expressing its support to the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) as they “intrude into academic matters, control the contents of libraries, and suppress the academic freedom of students and faculty.”

“[de Vera’s] reproach of UP’s “interference” signaled his support for further removal of radical reading materials in other libraries, which betrays the notion of academic freedom that he professes. 

“We are appalled that the CHED, through its Chair and a Regional Director, has failed in its mandate to uphold the higher education institutions’ revered tradition,” the UC stressed.

Furthermore, such attacks “critical thought, free discourse, and academic freedom” as a university’s core foundations were condoned by the UC.

“The purging of books is an attack on the life of the mind. It runs counter to the mission of universities to nurture critical thinking and expose students to the widest range of perspectives,” the UC added.

‘Bastions of democracy’

An earlier statement released by the UP SLIS on Oct. 6 explained the dire importance of exercising “free and open access to information” as a vital step in actively partaking in democratic societal processes.

“If we are to be truly free and democratic, we allow our citizens to have free and open access to information for them to critically think about their decisions and fully participate in democratic processes and uphold human rights and social justice all of which are embedded in our constitution,” they explained.

Moreover, urgent calls for unity among students, educators, librarians, and other practitioners alike to ceaselessly uphold the inherent value of libraries as “bastions of democracy” were made.

“We call on our fellow IS educators, librarians, information professionals, LIS students, researchers, and all who believe and value libraries as bastions of democracy, and all those who value our freedom, to take a stand and protect our libraries from all forms of censorship and all acts of book banning,” the UP SLIS said. DZUP

DOST-PCIEERD unveils latest eco-innovation projects

DOST-PCIEERD unveils latest eco-innovation projects

The Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Council for Industry, Energy, and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD) officially presented its newest set of eco-innovation projects for the country’s environment sector.

Led by the Innovation Council, the announcements were made during the seventh installment of the Science and Innovation Budding Opportunities for Leverage (SIBOL) webinar series, titled “Featuring projects for the Environment Sector.”

Eight approved and supported projects by DOST-PCIEERD were spearheaded by various educational and scientific institutions nationwide.

During the Nov. 8 SIBOL webinar, Dr. Enrico C. Paringit, the council’s executive director, acknowledged these multi-sectoral initiatives to continue macro-scale efforts towards environmental protection and care in the time of a pandemic.

“We are hopeful that these new projects will help the Philippine environment heal from the past damages and contribute to its protection and enrichment … [to] remain at the forefront of coming up with programs and projects that create positive change for the environment.

“We will be unwavering in supporting eco-innovations designed to solve the environmental issues of Filipino communities through research and development,” he said.

Paringit adds that in the past decade, more than half a billion pesos in investment for nearly 150 projects were made. 51% of these catalyzed eventual policy adjustments for public utilities while 49% offer potentially commercially viable technologies in the near future. 

Such innovations were subsequently adapted by private entities and government institutions for their prospective ventures and endeavors.

‘Drive Air ni Juan’

Prototype for Drive Air ni Juan, presented at the 7th SIBOL webinar series. From DOST PCIEERD

Among the eight chosen projects this year include “Drive Air ni Juan – Aluminosilicate Technology for Compact Air Purification,” led by UP Diliman Associate Professor Bryan Gencianeo Alamani, Ph.D.

As published in DOST’s Science for Change Program site, the project seeks to “build a powerful yet portable air purifier for automotive air filtration systems which works as a particulate filter, harmful gas remover, and anti-microbial filter.”

It also aims to “utilize naturally occurring aluminosilicate minerals in the Philippines through facile modification processes to mitigate the health-related risks of using taxis as [a] mode of transportation.”

Included in the list of areas with volcanic history where the project may source its materials are localities in Albay, Pampanga, Pangasinan, Taal, and Zambales.

While shifting towards the resumption of economic and transportation activities, and as we are slowly transitioning to the new normal, understanding the mechanism of the virus and its transmission is imperative to developing solutions to fight this disease. 

In an email exchange with DZUP, Dr. Alamani said that discerning the virus transmission mechanism in public transportation is “imperative to developing solutions to fight [COVID-19].” 

“One of the solutions that we are seeing is the use of air filters. Although there are already portable air filters available in the market, we thought of improving them, having the capability of not only trapping particulates and removing harmful gases but also capturing pathogens and disinfecting the circulating air [to] help ease the fear of the commuters in the possibility of contracting COVID-19,” he said.

The project leader also shared their vision of its long-term environmental impact.

“Since we have not yet won the battle against this pandemic, this will help a lot. This will help provide cleaner and safer air to the public transportation. Since the filter is “washable”, this will not affect much in the environmental wastes. 

“The aluminosilicate, the filter medium, can be used for a year. A recovery program may be developed for possible collection of the wastes into a treatment facility for reactivation. This means that very minimal waste will be produced,” he explained.

Moreover, he bared his team’s general plans for the project implementation in the near future.

“We have already collaborated with different companies to make sure that the implementation is smooth and successful. MC Home Depot will supply the raw material for the filter medium, Manly Plastics will provide modular and designed compartments via the 3D printing which provides high flexibility in conducting iterations in its design, and Global One Shuttle Service, Inc. will help on the pilot testing of the air filter equipment,” he revealed.

Dr. Alamani currently teaches at the UPD Department of Chemical Engineering and is an affiliate of the UP SIBOL Program in UP Manila. 

He is also a part of UPD’s environmental engineering, energy engineering, and science and society programs.

Moreover, Dr. Alamani finished his undergraduate and master’s degree in chemical engineering at UPD and became a Doctor of Philosophy in the same program at the University of Houston in Texas, U.S.A.

Approved projects

Joining Dr. Alamani’s ‘Drive Air ni Juan’ are the following eco-innovation projects:

  • AQUADRONE: UAV Assisted Deployment System for Water Quality Monitoring (Asst. Prof. Anthony James Bautista – University of Santo Tomas)
  • Chemical Synthesis and Characterization of Conducting Polymer/Metal Nanoparticles Composites, and Their Application as a Chemiresistive Gas Sensor Array for H2S and CO2 (Dr. Karen Santiago – University of Santo Tomas)
  • DOST-JSPS: Preparation of Crown Ethers and Alpha-aminophosphonates Decorated Natural Fibers-based Hybrids Metal Ion Adsorbents by Fusing Multicomponent-reaction and Radiation-grafting of Polymers (Dr. Jordan Madrid – DOST-Philippine Nuclear Research Institute)
  • eAsia: Developing Green Degradable Polymers from Plant Based Oils and Investigation on Its Subsequent Functionalization and Utility as Heavy Metal Sequestrants (Dr. Ian Ken Dimzon – Ateneo de Manila University)
  • Hydrological Characterization of Boracay Island’s Groundwater System and Nabaoy Watershed using Isotope and Nuclear-based Analytical Techniques (Engr. Raymond Sucgang – DOST-Philippine Nuclear Research Institute)
  • Integrated Flood and Water Resources Management in ASEAN Basins for Sustainable Development (Dr. Orlando Balderama – Isabela State University)
  • Project 1: Water for Tourism: A Science-Based Water Resource Monitoring and Management Planning Guide for Tourist Destinations in the Philippines (Dr. Maria Aileen Leah Guzman – Ateneo de Manila University). DZUP
PH requires COVID-19 vaccination for on-site workers

PH requires COVID-19 vaccination for on-site workers

The Philippine government approved the proposed mandate of requiring eligible on-site workers in areas with sufficient COVID-19 vaccine supply to be inoculated, beginning Dec. 1. 

The latest pronouncement was confirmed by Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Nov. 12, as agreed upon by the country’s Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).

“In areas where there are sufficient supplies of COVID-19 vaccines, COVID-19 vaccination of eligible employees tasked to do on-site work shall be required by all establishments and employers in the public and private sector,” he explained.

In addition, Roque adds that no unvaccinated employee shall be dismissed but must regularly yield negative test results when reporting to work.

“Eligible employees who remain to be unvaccinated may not be terminated but they shall be required to undergo regular RT-PCR testing, or antigen tests, at their own expense,” he added.

Employees who opt to receive their COVID-19 jabs during their working hours shall not be deemed absent. A proof of the employee’s confirmed vaccination schedule will be required.

For individuals who are not yet qualified to be inoculated, Roque says that “only the presentation of a medical clearance issued by a government health office, or birth certificate, as the case may be, shall serve as sufficient and valid proof of ineligibility for vaccination.”

Moreover, eligible public transportation workers must be fully vaccinated before their employers can resume normal operations.

READ: 30 percent ng mag-aaral, nakatanggap na ng unang iniksyon laban COVID-19: CHED

Public and private establishments, excluding frontline and emergency services, are allowed to “validly refuse entry and/or deny service to individuals who remain to be unvaccinated, or are merely partially vaccinated, despite being eligible for vaccination.”

Furthermore, the presidential spokesperson said that all local government units are “strongly enjoined” to incentivize fully vaccinated individuals.

Government agencies are also requested to “implement measures prioritizing fully vaccinated individuals availing of government programs and services.”
The aforementioned developments come in light of the government’s bid to ramp up the ongoing inoculation drive in the country upon the stabilizing vaccine supply to date and nationwide implementation of the alert level system. DZUP

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