Good news! Pinoys 17 and below may be vaccinated as early as September

Published June 2, 2021, 1:29 PM

by Martin Sadongdong

Individuals who belong in the pediatrics sector, or those age 17 years old and below, may be able to get the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine in September or October.

Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) District Eastern Visayas personnel, along with operational unit members, have worked together to feed children in Barangay Dolores, Ormoc City, Leyte on Thursday, May 27, 2021. (Photo courtesy of the PCG)

Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., vaccine czar and chief implementer of the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19, said Wednesday, June 2, that the manufacturer of the Pfizer vaccine, US-based Pfizer-BioNTech, has already started securing an emergency use authorization (EUA) so that the vaccines will be approved for use on individuals age 12 to 15.

“Nag-apply na ang Pfizer ng application for 15 and below and we are expecting kapag nag-open na tayo sa general public isasama na po natin ang 17 and below na pediatrics inoculation (Pfizer has already filed an pllication for 15 and below and we are expecting that once we open the [vaccination of the] general public, we will be able to include the 17-years-old and below),” he said in a television interview over ABSCBN’s “Headstart.”

Moderna, Inc., another American biotechnology company, has also started its clinical trials on the efficacy of its vaccines to children age 12 to 17. In a report on May 6, Moderna, Inc. announced that the results of their initial analysis showed its vaccine has an efficacy rate of 96 percent on adolescents age 12 to 17.

Galvez, in a separate online briefing, said the population of the pediatrics sector is about 29 million.

“Ang tinatawag nating containment of disease ay hindi mako-contain ‘yan kapag merong sizeable amount ang ating population na lumalakad na hindi vaccinated (We cannot achieve the containment of the disease if there is a sizeable amount in our population that goes around without being vaccinated,” he said.

The dilemma, however, is the limited supply of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in the country.

There were only 193,050 doses of Pfizer in the country and these were used for the inoculation of A1 to A3 priorities: the frontline healthcare workers, senior citizens, and persons with co-morbidities.

Galvez said the country will start receiving the bulk of the 40 million doses it ordered from Pfizer in the third quarter of the year.

Aside from this, the COVAX facility will also deliver 2.2 million doses of Pfizer vaccines to the country in June. An initial 1.3 million doses of Pfizer will arrive on June 7 while the remaining 900,000 will be transported on June 11.

Meanwhile, the country has yet to secure a single dose of Moderna. The first batch of Moderna vaccines — around 250,000 doses — is expected to be delivered this month.

Galvez said he also talked to representatives of Chinese manufacturer Sinovac Biotech on Monday for the conduct of clinical trials of its CoronaVac vaccines on the pediatrics sector.

“They are already on the clinical trial Phase 1 and Phase 2. Lahat ng manufacturers natin sinusubukan nila magkaroon ng pediatric vaccination (All of our manufacturers are trying to have a pediatric vaccination),” he said.

“Other vaccine [manufacturers] like [Gamaleya Research Institute] Sputnik V, they are also venturing in inoculating 12 years old and below,” the vaccine czar added.