The stress of the pandemic era is real for everyone, but the anxiety is magnified for parents who have young children to care for and protect against the COVID-19 virus. The good news? The Department of Health (DOH) has finally greenlighted the vaccination of children aged 5 to 11 starting February 7.

Even better: Kids can finally—and conveniently—get their jabs at SM vax sites as SM continues its multi-mall vaccination program in collaboration with local government units (LGUs). The rollout is expected to begin in Metro Manila venues first and is set to expand to areas outside NCR by mid-February. The initial locations for the launch include the following malls: 

SM City North EDSA

SM Mall of Asia

The Podium

SM City Sucat

SM Center Las Piñas

SM City Grand Central

SM City Olongapo Central

SM City Dasmariñas

SM Seaside City Cebu

SM City Mindpro

SMX Aura

To make the experience less scary and more enjoyable for the little ones, the vaccination areas for the pediatric sites have been designed to be extra kid-friendly. For starters, the children will be greeted and guided by costumed staff, treats will be given out post-vax, and fun activities will be available at the observation and monitoring areas. Of course, all these will be implemented while following safety protocols and observing minimum health standards. (See SM sites for minors aged 12 to 17 here and online registration here.)

How to register and get a pediatric vax schedule?
Check with your LGU for the registration process as each city and/or municipality has its own portal for proper processing. It’s also best to consult with your child’s pediatrician for guidance prior to getting the shot. Parents of kids with comorbidities will also be required to present a medical certificate.

A reformulated dosage of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will be administered to children 5 to 11 years old (lower than the dosage given to minors aged 12 to 17) as this was the only vaccine granted emergency use approval by the country’s Food and Drug Administration.

COVID-ready tips for parents
Here’s an important reminder, though: Having your child receive the vaccine will not make him or her completely immune to COVID-19. Instead, it lowers the risk of getting and spreading the virus, and helps prevent severe illness and even death.

That said, in case you and your family—including your little ones—contract COVID, it’s good to be prepared with these practical tips when caring for children:

  • Inform your pediatrician. The recent Omicron surge has affected a lot of children, but thankfully the symptoms reported have been mostly mild and manageable with home care. Even so, it’s important to inform your doctor and closely monitor symptoms. According to the DOH’s Home Care Guide for Children, the usual symptoms in kids include fever, cough, colds, sore throat, headaches, body pain, and loss of appetite. (See complete list here.)

    That said, make sure to stock up on fever and cold medicine, as well as other emergency equipment such as a nebulizer and pediatric pulse oximeter.

    Shop Disudrin Syrup, P117, Tempra Strawberry Syrup for Kids, P97, HealMed Kids Pulse Oximeter, P499, Supreme Ultramobile Handy Nebulizer, P2,165.18 at Watsons. Click here for a list of Watsons branches or shop via the Watsons website and app.

  • Make sure your child gets lots of rest and fluids. Most people with a mild illness don’t really need specific treatment and usually get better by getting lots of sleep and loading up on water and juices. Healthy food helps a lot, too—so make sure you keep those little bellies nourished with their favorite eats. (Find out where you can order goto and more comfort food here.)

    You can also check out the complete SM Mall Directory for endless food options. For easy pickup and delivery, call the SM Customer Care hotlines via 8876-1111, 0917-876-1111 or 0908-876-1111, or enjoy hassle-free online transactions through the SM Malls Online app.

  • Watch out for warning signs. According to DOH guidelines, it’s best to seek immediate care or proceed to the emergency room if you notice any of the following indicators of moderate to severe COVID-19:
    • signs of pneumonia (cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing)
    • bluish discoloration on the lips, nails, or skin
    • an oxygen level of less than 94%
    • weakness or lethargy
    • unable to breastfeed, eat, or drink
    • loss of consciousness
    • seizure or convulsion

For more info, you can download the DOH’s official guide for home care for children here.

Follow SM Supermalls on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for more updates. Check out the mall entry guidelines and updates on mall hours here. You can also view the complete SM Directory here.