‘Huwag po kayong matakot’: Medical societies assure safety of COVID-19 vaccines for kids

Published February 8, 2022, 12:31 PM

by Charie Mae F. Abarca

While science is still evolving, current studies revealed that the pediatric dose of the Pfizer vaccine is safe and effective in preventing severe coronavirus disease (COVID-19) illness among children aged five to 11 years old, medical societies reiterated on Tuesday, Feb. 8.

In a media conference, several experts presented facts proving that vaccines are safe and effective, especially for children within the five to 11 age group.

“In the pivotal trial of the vaccine conducted among children aged five to 11 years, the vaccine was found to be safe and efficacious, having prevented 90.9 percent of symptomatic COVID-19. No serious adverse events were found related to the vaccination,” said Dr. Joselyn Alonzo-Eusebio, president of the Philippine Pediatric Society (PPS).


Ill-effects of COVID-19 among kids

Meanwhile, Dr. Mary Ann Bunyi, president of the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines (PIDSP) disclosed that children across all age groups can get seriously ill from COVID-19. She said that COVID-19 also brings the risk of children acquiring an inflammatory syndrome.

“A dreaded complication called Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in children (MIS-C) is most frequent among five to 11 years old and can occur even after a symptomatic or mild infection with COVID-19,” said Bunyi.

Bunyi added that in Metro Manila alone from 2020 to 2021, 34 cases of MIS-C have been confirmed among children in three tertiary hospitals and two private hospitals in the country. Most of these children belong to the five to 11 age group.

She likewise stated that COVID-19 worsens a child’s mental health, exacerbates learning crisis, decreases physical activity, and poses the risk of getting sick with other vaccine-preventable diseases.

Benefits of COVID-19 vaccines

Amid the skepticism of many, Dr. Ma. Liza Antoinette Gonzales, president of the Philippine Foundation of Vaccination (PFV) also said that vaccines have numerous benefits, especially for kids.

“Direct benefits would be the prevention of COVID-19 and its complications [such as] MIS-C, hospitalizations, and even death,” she said.

Gonzales added that vaccination has many indirect effects.

“It mitigates physical, emotional, and mental effects resulting from the prolonged disruption in school, participation in sports, and other social activities that are key to child and adolescent wellbeing,” she added.

Meanwhile, she reiterated that the widespread vaccination of children in this age group could further decrease community transmission and potentially contribute to herd immunity against the disease.

Listen to the experts

Resbakuna for Kids or vaccination of children aged five to 11-year-olds was successfully launched in the Philippines on Monday, Feb. 7. While the launch has been successful, vaccine hesitancy remains.

Meanwhile, experts assured the public that there is “no need of being afraid” because the vaccines are safe and effective.

“Matakot po tayo sa COVID-19, huwag sa bakuna. Tanggalin [na] ang agam-agam ng mga magulang regarding sa vaccination. Pabakunahan po natin ang ating mga anak para maprotektahan sila (Let us be afraid of COVID-19, not the vaccine. Eliminate the doubt of parents regarding vaccination. Let us vaccinate our children to protect them),” said Philippine Medical Association (PMA) president Dr. Benito Atienza.

Furthermore, Gonzales said that the public should listen to the experts because what they present are science-based facts.

“Doon po sa mga natatakot pa rin, naririnig po namin kayo at naiintindihan namin, pero sana naririnig niyo rin ang sinasabi ng mga experts. Nirereview po namin at ine-evaluate ang mga data at hindi po kami magrerecommend na hindi namin sigurado na magiging effective at safe sa mga bata (For those who are still afraid, we hear you and we understand, but I hope that you also hear what the experts are saying. We review and evaluate the data and we do not recommend if we are not sure that it will be effective and safe for children),” said Gonzales.