Pediatric infectious disease group backs COVID-19 vaccination of kids aged 5 to 11

Saying that it is already time to let children to go to school and play outside, the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines (PIDSP) has backed the government’s inoculation of children aged 5 to 11 which is eyed to begin on Friday, Feb. 4.

(PIDSP president Dr. Mary Ann Bunyi / MANILA BULLETIN)

In a “Laging Handa” briefing on Monday, Jan.31, PIDSP president Dr. Mary Ann Bunyi said that vaccinating the said age group will provide them additional protection against the dreaded disease.

“Panahon na para palabasin na natin ang mga anak. Halos dalawang taon na silang nakakulong sa bahay ( It is time to let our children go out. They have been kept inside houses for almost two years now).”

“Ito na ang pagkakataon para makabalik sila sa paaralan, makapaglaro sa labas, makipag-interact sa mga kaibigan, at maramdaman nila ang iba po nilang activities na nagagawa nila bago ang pandemya ( This is our chance to let them go back to school, let them play outside, and interact with their friends, and for them to experience other activities that they were enjoying before the pandemic),” she added.

By vaccinating children against COVID-19, Bunyi said hospitalization can be avoided, and children can go to school again and enjoy other social activities they have been deprived of.

Citing the most recent data of the Department of Health (DOH) as of January 2022, the PIDSP president said around 400,000 minors have been infected with COVID-19.

Meanwhile, according to the consolidated data of the Philippine Pediatric Society and PIDSP in their Salvacion Registry, about 2,000 children have been hospitalized due to COVID-19 so far.

“Sixteen percent of the 2,000 hospitalized minors had severe condition due to COVID-19,” Bunyi bared.

The minor side reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine experienced by minors aged 12 to 17—pain at the injection site, fever, headache, increase in blood pressure—may also be experienced by children aged 5 to 11, she said.

“Bawat bakuna po ay talagang may side reactions, kahit hindi for COVID-19... Lahat po iyan ay may side reactions, kaya mahalaga po na mapaliwanag at maituro sa mga magulang ang maaring kung ano po ang side reactions na aasahan nila kung sakaling tatanggap ng bakuna ang kanilang mga anak (All vaccines have side reactions, even the ones not for COVID-19. All of them have side reactions, that is why it is important to explain to parents what to expect should their children get inoculated),” she said.

Bunyi noted that it is important for parents to monitor and report the side reactions of their children to the COVID-19 vaccine.

Recently, Health Usec. Maria Rosario Vergeire has announced that the government is targeting to start the inoculation of minors aged 5 to 11 on Feb. 4.

The COVID-19 vaccine that will be used is Pfizer as it is, so far, the only vaccine granted by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) an emergency use authorization for children aged 5 to 11.