Two senators on Monday, August 9 urged the National Task Force for COVID-19 to come up with a realistic approach in its plan to vaccinate minors.
Senator Nancy Binay pointed out that at this point, only Pfizer-BioNTech is the vaccine that is recommended for the use of children, but the amount of supply of these COVID-19 jabs come in trickles.
“Agree ako na mabakunahan din yung mga bata, at suportado ko yung initiative na mas maraming age groups ang mabigyan ng bakuna (I do agree that minors should also be vaccinated, and I support the initiative to vaccinate a wide range of age groups). But at this point, Pfizer is the only vaccine approved for children,” Binay said in a statement.
“Baka kasi paasahin na naman ang marami sa wala (I’m worried they might again raise the hopes of many on nothing). The focus should be directed to the vulnerable sectors,” she said.
“Yung mga di pa nababakunahan (those who have yet to be vaccinated)—jeepney and bus drivers, street vendors, those in frontline-backend service industries and many more, including senior citizens and those with comorbidities who have to go out of their homes to work,” the senator pointed out.
Confronted with the vaccine shortage, Binay said it is not fair to raise the issue of vaccinating minors while those who are part of the priority age groups have yet to get inoculated.
“I just hope that the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) and DOH (Department of Health) can manage people’s expectations with regard the availability of vaccines. So, let’s be more practical and realistic,” the senator reiterated.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros, who chairs the Senate committee on women and children, echoed the same sentiment, as she stressed that children’s safety should be the government’s highest priority.
Hontiveros also expressed hope manufacturers will invest more on pediatric trials to resolve safety issues regarding the use of COVID-19 vaccines on children.
“So far, the WHO (World Health Organization) has confirmed that only one brand is suitable for use on people aged 12 and above, and such brand should be made available to the children who are at high risk,” Hontiveros said.
“We expect our government authority to be diligent and to anticipate needs, including budget and procurement requirements for suitable vaccines, once children are included in our national vaccination program roll-out,” she stressed.