The Department of Health (DOH) has yet to issue an official recommendation to include children in the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination program as local experts are still studying the vaccines’ safety and effectiveness on children.
“We would like to reiterate that together with our experts, we are still carefully deliberating our final recommendations on this,” the DOH said in a statement on Thursday, Sept. 23.
This statement of DOH comes after Vaccine Czar Carlito Galvez Jr. proposed on Wednesday, Sept. 22, to start the COVID-19 vaccination for children aged 12 to 17 by mid-October.
“We support providing children aged 12 to 17 with additional protection, provided that their safety is ensured and that there is adequate and stable supply of vaccines,” the DOH said.
At present, the vaccination program is still prioritizing the adult population. The DOH emphasized the importance of “cocoon strategy” where adults should get themselves fully vaccinated and practice health protocols to avoid infecting children.
“While children are not yet being vaccinated, we encourage those eligible to get vaccinated to achieve the ‘cocoon effect’ so they can be protected as well,” the agency said.
“The Department would like to underscore the importance of prioritizing the most vulnerable such as senior citizens and persons with comorbidities,” it added.
The DOH said it is currently conducting a survey in relation to the vaccination of children.
“The survey aims to determine the perception, willingness, and factors affecting the will of getting vaccinated among adolescents and their parents, as well as to guide the efforts in advocacy and communications to appraise the overall COVID-19 vaccine deployment plan,” it said.
“The results of the survey will also be used for the deliberations of vaccine experts in the concurrence of their recommendation on pediatric vaccination,” it added.