Philippines begins COVID-19 vaccination of children ages 5-11

Pediatricians assure parents that COVID-19 vaccines have been shown to be safe and effective for children

MANILA, Philippines – As the Philippines enters its third year in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, the government on Monday, February 7, began vaccinating children aged 5 to 11 against the deadly virus.

The vaccination was pushed back from its original schedule on Friday, February 4, due to “logistical challenges”. The initial 780,000 doses of the vaccine made by Pfizer-BioNTech arrived Friday evening alone.

The Pfizer vaccine is used for immunization because it is the only vaccine that has received emergency use approval for children ages 5 to 11 from the Philippine Food and Drug Administration. The Pfizer vaccine for them has a lower dosage and concentration than those given to young people aged 12 to 17.

The country began vaccinating 12 to 17 year olds in October 2021.

Vaccination of children aged 5 to 11 has begun at six sites in Metro Manila – Philippine Heart Center, Philippine Children’s Medical Center, National Children’s Hospital, Manila Zoo, SM North Edsa ( Skydome) and the Fil Oil Gym in San Juan City. Vaccination will be extended to central Luzon and Calabarzon on Tuesday 8 February.

Undersecretary of Health Myrna Cabotaje, who also heads the Philippines’ National Vaccine Operation Center, said the government aims to vaccinate 15.5 million children between the ages of 5 and 11 in the country.

On Friday, the DOH said 69.2% of COVID-19 cases reported among the pediatric group (those 17 and under) in January 2022 were children ages 0-11.

“The contribution of children 0-11 to total pediatric cases is higher during the Omicron wave compared to Delta. Cases among the 0-11 age group averaged 56% of total pediatric cases in September and that number jumped to 69.2% in January,” the DOH said.

The recent increase in cases caused by the highly transmissible variant of Omicron has led to an increase in infections in all age groups – 18 to 59 year olds seeing the largest increase, followed by children under 5, then 5 to 11 years old. -old.


Philippines begins COVID-19 vaccination of children ages 5-11

Although cases have declined in recent days, daily infections are still higher than what was reported before the Omicron surge. The Philippines is now categorized as a “moderate risk” case. The country was placed under “critical risk” status on January 10 due to rising COVID-19 cases. On January 15, it recorded its highest daily COVID-19 cases at 39,004.

Safe and effective

In a statement on Friday, pediatricians assured parents that COVID-19 vaccines have been shown to be safe and effective for children aged 5 to 11, as they expressed support for the government’s vaccination campaign.

“We are pleased that as a nation we are able to extend the protection given to adults and adolescents to now include children as young as 5 years old. Parents and guardians of children aged 5 age 11 are advised to discuss vaccination with their healthcare provider and to obtain their information from trusted sources with the appropriate experience and expertise,” said the Philippine Pediatric Society and the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of
the Philippines said in a joint statement.

Citing a study from the New England Journal of Medicine, they said the Pfizer vaccine was shown to be safe and effective, having prevented 90.9% of symptomatic cases of COVID-19. They noted that “no serious adverse events or deaths were found related to vaccination.”

The vaccination of children is welcome news as the Department of Education (DepEd) plans to eventually move to limited face-to-face classes by the 2022 to 2023 school year. The country uses the education system remotely since the pandemic began in 2020. (READ: 5 ways the Philippines can prepare their schools for health crises in 2022)

The Philippines joins a number of countries, including the United States and Singapore, which have already started vaccinating children aged 5 to 11.

The vaccination was successful despite a petition filed by two parents in the Quezon City Regional Trial Court to stop the impending COVID-19 vaccination for children. They challenged a clause in the DOH rule that grants the government the authority to provide consent for a minor wishing to be vaccinated. – Rappler.com

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