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June 10, 2021

Children Not Yet Up For COVID-19 Vaccination – DOH

Children Not Yet Up For COVID-19 Vaccination – DOH A boy receives a vaccine from a health worker in Barangay Pinyahan in Quezon City during the supplemental immunization activity against measles and rubella on Feb. 3, 2021. Photo by Michael Varcas, The Philippine STAR

Due to the shortage of COVID-19 vaccines in the country, minors will not yet be given the jabs, an official of the Department of Health (DOH) said Tuesday night, June 8.

“It has been recommended by the DOH that because of (vaccine) scarcity, we focus more on those vulnerable people and (who) have severe forms of illness,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told “The Chiefs” on One News / TV5.

The question of inoculating minors came up as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved recently the use of the COVID-19 vaccine of Pfizer-BioNTech on Filipinos as young as 12.

“While our youth are important, we have to stick to the prioritization framework,” Vergeire said, referring to first vaccinating health care workers under the A1 prioritization category, senior citizens (A2) and people with comorbidities (A3).

She stressed that children have “long been protected” against COVID-19 because they have been staying at home.

She also said given their ages, children have a “low risk” of contracting COVID-19.

In a joint statement, the Philippine Pediatric Society and the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines  also recommended that the “older and more vulnerable age groups be prioritized” for inoculation over minors.

“Children may be vaccinated with any duly approved COVID-19 vaccine,” they said in the statement dated June 7, but noted how the limited vaccine supply would best be used for the priority sectors.

“Once the country will have adequate vaccine supply, children with comorbidities may be given precedence for vaccination,” they added.

They also urged parents to “seek advice from their pediatrician to assess their child’s risk from COVID-19 and the benefits of getting vaccinated.”

A4 priority to 40 and up

In the same interview, Vergeire said local government units should prioritize older A4 vaccinees or those aged between 40 and 59 who are in the masterlist of frontline essential workers.

However, this does not mean that younger individuals in the A4 category will no longer be given the jabs. It only means that those in the 40 to 59 age range would be vaccinated first.

“If you are already at the vaccination sites and there are no 40 to 59 years old vaccinees, you will be inoculated as long as you are masterlisted,” she stated.

Vergeire said they expect a higher vaccine acceptance in the A4 group because, as workers, they are familiar with the risks of this pandemic.

“They are the ones going out every day. They know the risks that they get into when they get out of their houses,” she added.

Still, the supply of vaccines dedicated to the A4 group is limited since jabs acquired through the COVAX Facility cannot be given to them. These vaccines were donated for the A1, A2 and A3 categories.

It is estimated there are some 35 million individuals belonging to A4 but some of them have already been considered for A2 and A3 categories.

6.09 million vaccine doses administered

On Wednesday, June 9, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said the government has administered over six million anti-COVID-19 jabs across the four priority groups.

“The government has administered a total of 6,096,208 anti-COVID jabs to priority groups A1, A2, A3 and A4 nationwide as of June 7,” Galvez noted.

Also, 1,604,260 individuals have been fully vaccinated or received their second dose of the anti-COVID jab.

This month, the country expects the arrival of a total of 11,058,000 doses of anti-COVID-19 vaccines.

These include 5.5 million doses of Sinovac; one million Sputnik V doses; 250,000 doses of Moderna as well as 2.280 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech and 2.028 million doses of AstraZeneca from the COVAX Facility.

As the vaccine supply increases, Galvez said the government is also preparing to increase the number of vaccination sites in the country to 5,000. – With Jose Rodel Clapano
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