The Philippines is aiming to fully vaccinate about 80 percent of its pediatric population aged 12 to 17 against COVID-19 by the end of this year, the Department of Health (DOH) said on Thursday, Oct. 28.
DOH Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje said there are about 12.7 million children aged 12 to 17 in the country who are eligible for COVID-19 vaccination. As of Oct. 27, a total of 23,727 children were able to receive their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
“By December, our target is to vaccinate at least 80 percent of the target population with two doses,” Cabotaje said in a press briefing.
“Dalawang doses iyan, kasi ang binigyan ng Philippine FDA (Food and Drug Administration) ng emergency use authorization na ibabakuna sa 12 to 17 ay Pfizer at Moderna. So, ang interval nila is 21 days and 28 days, respectively (Those are two doses. The Philippine FDA has given Pfizer and Moderna an emergency use authorization for 12 to 17 years old. So, their interval is 21 days and 28 days, respectively),” she added.
On Nov. 3, the Philippines will begin the nationwide rollout of COVID-19 vaccination among all children aged 12 to 17. The pilot implementation was conducted last Oct. 15, starting off with children with comorbidities.
Cabotaje said that it is up to the different local government units (LGUs) on where they should conduct their respective pediatric vaccination. However, the vaccination sites must have the necessary equipment in case a child will experience an adverse event following immunization.
“Per vaccination sites, pwede ba lahat? In principle pwede lahat. Pero we are leaving it to the local government units…. Kailangan ready sila sa response. Hindi pwedeng gamitin yung pang adult na pang response…Kasi kailangan may pediatric BP, mga emergency equipment–iba yung pang bata at pang adult (Per vaccination sites, can they use it? In principle, yes. But we are leaving it to the local government units… They must be ready to respond. The equipment being used for adults and children are different),” she said.
“Kung ang feeling ng lokal na pamahalaan, they have already equipped the areas, then they can have the current vaccination sites. Otherwise, they may just opt to do it in the hospitals. Or katulad ng ginawa initially ng Malabon, Valenzuela, at Marikina—-yung mga area na malapit sa ospital, para mairefer kaagad (If the local governments think that their vaccination sites are already equipped, then they can use their current vaccination sites. Otherwise, they may just opt to do it in the hospitals. Or like what Malabon, Valenzuela, and Marikina did initially —- they used the areas near a hospital, so they can refer the patient immediately),” she added.
Cabotaje said that only children with comorbidities need to present a medical certificate before they can be vaccinated.
“Yung sa rest of the pediatric population, we will not require a medical certificate or a medical clearance from the attending doctor. Kasi we presume na hindi naman may sakit ito, they are healthy and they have no history of any illness. Pero itutuloy pa rin natin yung ating [health] screening (Because we presume that they are not sick, they are healthy and they have no history of any illness. But we will still continue our health screening),” she said
It is also at the discretion of the LGUs on the schedule of the pediatric vaccination in their respective areas, said Cabotaje.
“Walang specific na dates. Basta gusto natin mabakunahan as fast as many and with minimum wastage and safety ang ating prime consideration (There are no specific dates. We just want to vaccinate as fast and as many, and with minimum wastage….. and safety is our prime consideration),” she added.
Cabotaje said that the DOH is also suggesting to LGUs to have a separate lane between adults and children in the vaccination sites.
“Preferably, hiwalay na lane o kaya hiwalay na kwarto ang paggagawan. Or some LGUs will have separate scheduled days….Bahala na sila (Preferably, the vaccination of adults and children will be done in a separate lane or a separate room. Or some LGUs will have separate scheduled days …. It’s up to them),” she said.