MANILA - A targeted national event for pediatric vaccination will help maximize immunization efforts for children aged 5-11 years old, and minimize errors on what vaccines will be given, the Philippine Medical Association (PMA) said Tuesday.
"Separating their vaccination from adults will minimize errors from happening because children have a different formulation for vaccines," said PMA President Dr. Benny Atienza.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Norgales earlier announced that pediatric vaccination in the country will begin on February 4.
Enrique Gonzales, chairman of IP Biotech Inc. said they are looking forward to getting the Emergency Use Authorization for Sinovac vaccines intended for kids aged 5-11 years old.
A study done in Chile involving 1.9 million children aged 6-16 years old provided data that showed the Sinovac is 74 percent efficacy versus contracting COVID-19, 90 percent against hospitalization, and 100 percent against ICU hospitalization, according to Gonzales.
"Data is promising that the vaccine will protect children from COVID," he assured.
He added that in China, 211 million doses of Sinovac were administered to adolescents aged 13-17 years old and yielded only 6 out of 100,000 adverse effects after immunization (AEFI). Of these side effects 9 out of 10 were "very mild" and "very manageable".
IP Biotech has filed reports with the Food and Drug Administration to apply for Sinovac's EUA for pediatric vaccination.
"It's only a matter of time before Sinovac will be used for kids," Gonzalez said.
A massive information campaign should be done to combat vaccine hesitancy especially for parents who are anxious about getting their children vaccinated, according to medical experts.
"We have been vaccinating since 1974. You can see children being vaccinated for along time, why would you be afraid of getting them vaccinated when it can save and prolong their lives?" Dr. Lulu Bravo, said.
"Those who are vaccine-hesitant are reading unreliable resources," Bravo added. She recommended going to the World Health Organization and Philippine Foundation for Vaccination sites where reliable information on vaccines are readily available.
Gonzalez echoed this, saying that the single most important thing to bring down vaccine hesitancy is getting the right information to parents.
IP Biotech is set to do a large-scale survey catering to Filipinos to better understand the source of parents' vaccine hesitancy, map it geographically, and explore ways to address it.
The study will have 2,000-3,000 respondents and may be expected by the end of the first quarter.
Atienza assured that post-COVID-19 vaccine side-effects for children will be similar to side-effects from other routine pediatric vaccine side effects, and can be treated with paracetamol depending on the weight of the child.
Gonzalez recommended that those who may be considering natural immunity through infection might want to reassess their options.
"If you're vaccinated and you get COVID, your level of protection is superior than that if you're unvaccinated and got natural immunity. If you have the choice, go for the better choice. This is part of the common good," he reminded.
As of January 24, the Philippines has fully vaccinated 53.38 million Filipinos, of which 3.8 million have been boosted.