Children might need to wait a little while longer to be immunized against the coronavirus until vaccines are proven to be safe and effective to them, an official of the World Health Organization (WHO) said.
WHO Country Representative Rabindra Abeyasinghe said that COVID-19 vaccines are not yet guaranteed to be safe for children under 16 years old.
“So what we have now is a clearance for the use of vaccines in people above 16 years,” said Abeyasinghe.
He said that vaccine developers did not prioritize kids on the clinical trials because of the “low risk of disease in children [and] also because of the critical imports of ensuring the vaccines are safe in the first place, among adults before they are tried on children.”
Abeyasinghe said that studies are now being conducted on the possible effects of COVID-19 vaccines to children.
“We are closely working with the vaccine manufacturers, the academe and the research partners to better understand this. But the key issue is that, that is going to take time and maybe, in a few months, we will have better evidence to confidently say that these vaccines are safe and effective for children,” he said.
“As time goes, as global experience increases, it will become clear whether these vaccines can be used for children and whether they are safe and effective. Once we have that evidence, we can consider the option for vaccinating children.”
Meanwhile, the WHO official suggested conducting another survey on the willingness of Filipinos to get vaccinated against the viral disease.
Abeyasinghe made the remark after he was asked on the recent survey results of Pulse Asia—- which reported that 47 percent of the 2,400 adult Filipinos who were surveyed said they do not want to get vaccinated against the viral disease due to safety concerns.
“I like to draw attention to the fact that the Pulse Asia Survey was conducted at the end of November, before the second of December, and that was the time that we did not have emergency use authorization for any of the COVID vaccine,” he said.
“So that question was asked in a space where nobody knew about the possibility of COVID-19 vaccines becoming available so soon and about their safety and use in other countries. So we need to really ask this question again.”