The Philippines is eyeing to vaccinate individuals aged 12 to 17 years old against Covid-19 by mid-October, an official said Thursday.
“We are proposing to open up the vaccination for children by the middle of October,” vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr., said during his presentation in the pre-taped “Talk to the People” with President Rodrigo Duterte.
Galvez said the country has enough supply of Covid-19 vaccines totaling 23.75 million doses in stock and expects to receive more deliveries in the coming weeks.
He added that the current supply of vaccines can sustain the vaccination until October since the average daily jabs are now ranging from 400,000 to 500,000.
The official also said there is a vaccine “saturation” in the National Capital Region (NCR) and other cities, hence, the vaccination should be open to other sectors.
Galvez said the vaccine supply is enough to vaccinate some 12 million children from this age group.
However, he said the priority in the vaccination should be children with comorbidities.
“But our recommendation is that we first vaccinate those comorbidities and the children of health care workers,” he added.
So far, only Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccines were able to secure emergency use for individuals aged 12 to 15 years old.
Earlier this week, the Department of Health (DoH) said the country’s vaccine experts are still studying the vaccination of the pediatric population.
The DoH said senior citizens and people with comorbidities who are considered vulnerable, should still be prioritized among all the sectors.
The agency previously said that the pediatric population (0- to 17-year-old) in the country is about 40 million.
Meanwhile, Galvez admitted that vaccine hesitancy among the country’s elderly population remains high, particularly in far-flung and densely populated areas.
Based on the latest vaccine statistics report, only 4,316,470 (or 52.29 percent) of senior citizens nationwide are fully vaccinated, 3,513,060 (42.56 percent) are partially vaccinated.
The official added that the vaccine turnout remained low compared to the earlier projections of the National Task Force against Covid-19 (NTF).
To address the vaccine hesitancy among the elderlies, Galvez, who also heads the NTF, proposed to open the vaccination for the younger population.
“This is what we call a family approach. So, the strategy would be vaccinating the other members of the households to create a bandwagon effect,” he said.
He added that the move will not just increase the number of vaccinated individuals per household but would also encourage the elderly to get the jab, as they see their family members getting vaccinated including children.
The vaccine czar assured the public that the country has enough supply of Covid-19 vaccines to vaccinate the younger population.
“This is just in time as we now have vaccines. We are also seeing that (based) on the list, logistics perspective, vaccine supply will never be a problem,” he added.