Health Secretary Francisco Duque III has recommended delaying the proposed anti-coronavirus vaccination of minors due to limited supply of Covid-19 shots.
During his pandemic report to President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday, Duque stressed that the government should prioritize the elderly and those with comorbidities in the state’s inoculation drive before vaccinating children aged 17 and below.
“The Department of Health (DOH) maintains its recommendation to prioritize the vaccination of adults based on our prioritization framework,” he told the President.
The health secretary also noted that the Pfizer-BioNTech jabs were the only doses available in the country which can be given to individuals aged 12 to 15, adding that these were insufficient to start the inoculation of minors.
Meanwhile, Duque said that minors with chronic illnesses may be vaccinated once the country’s vaccine stockpile improves.
Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo, who leads the country’s Food and Drug Administration, also echoed Duque’s recommendation by saying that elderly people with illnesses remain the most vulnerable group to critical Covid-19 conditions.
“Senior citizens and those with comorbidities were in danger of having severe Covid-19 and the risk among children remained low,” he told the President.
Health experts and officials also need more time to ensure the safety of Covid-19 vaccines on children especially to those who have diseases and were immunocompromised, Domingo noted.
The recommendation to delay Covid-19 vaccination on children was also backed by specialists from the Philippine Pediatric Society, Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines, and all experts’ groups of the DOH, according to Duque.
Of all the anti-coronavirus vaccines available worldwide, only those made by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Sinovac, and Sinopharm were used on children in other countries.
The jabs made by Pfizer-BioNTech were used on children aged 12 to 17 in the United States, Europe, Canada, and Singapore.
Moderna’s shots were also given to individuals aged 12 to 17 in the European Union.
Meanwhile, the Covid-19 vaccines of Sinopharm and Sinovac were administered on individuals aged three to 17 in the United Arab Emirates and China, respectively.
Other vaccine brands were ongoing clinical trials to determine whether these could be given to the younger population.
Proposals to vaccinate minors against Covid-19 have been called for by government officials and the public amid reports of children being severely struck by the respiratory disease.
The Philippine General Hospital earlier bared that it has six pediatric patients seen to have “very serious” Covid-19 infection. Two of these patients reportedly have comorbidities.
The government has administered at least 24.99 million doses of Covid-19 shots to Filipino adults who belong to priority groups.
At press time, about 11.61 million adults have been fully vaccinated against the novel coronavirus, while 13.37 million people were waiting for their second shots.
The country aims to vaccinate up to 70 million people this year to achieve population protection against Covid-19.
The Philippines has so far recorded 1.67 million coronavirus infections, of which over 78,000 were active cases.