Pediatric vaccination will start among 12-17 years old with comorbidities as part of the A3 priority group, the Department of Health (DOH) confirmed on Wednesday. In a news release, the agency said expanding the vaccination program beyond this group would follow once adequate coverage of the A2 priority group (senior citizens) has been achieved and vaccine supply becomes sufficient to include children.
“For the initial run, we recommend that children with comorbidities will be vaccinated in selected sites with clearance from their pediatricians or trained doctors, or for far-flung or Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas (GIDA), with clearance from on-site trained physicians guided by a checklist from the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines,” DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said.
The DOH assured that prior to the vaccination, an informed consent by the parent or guardian and the child prior would be obtained. It would also ensure the supply availability of US-made Pfizer and Moderna, the only vaccines with emergency use authorization for 12 to 17 years old issued by the Philippine Food and Drug Administration, and equitable access to medical clearance by a physician for children with comorbidities.
“We have to ensure that children have equitable access to vaccines. Eventually, as we get more local experience, we will be able to retool our current vaccinators on the additional precautionary steps on screening and vaccine administration,” Vergeire said.
The department emphasized the need for a careful and planned rollout of vaccines for children. Considering that the risks of contracting severe Covid-19 infection or dying from it is significantly lower for healthy children, the benefit from vaccination relative to the risk of a healthy child is also lower compared to a sick child, adult, or senior citizen.
The DOH has renewed its call for those eligible among the adult population to get vaccinated to also protect children who cannot receive the shots yet.
“Like what our DOH All Expert Group has always emphasized, even if we have approved the recommendation to vaccinate children with comorbidities, we still have to increase our vaccination coverage among other priority groups, especially our senior citizens,” Vergeire said.