MANILA - A doctor serving as an adviser to the national task force against COVID-19 on Thursday gave some reminders to parents of children with history of allergies and asthma as the government prepares to roll out vaccination of those aged 5 to 11.
Dr. Ted Herbosa said children with comorbidities or associated illnesses, who will be prioritized in the first tranche of inoculation, will be required to present a medical certificate to prove that their doctors are allowing them to receive the vaccine.
He said some of the severe complications from the COVID-19 vaccine include anaphylaxis, myocarditis, and inflammation of the lungs. However, he tells parents who question the need to vaccinate young children with "an experimental vaccine" that it has been "proven that there’s more benefit than risk."
In the case of allergies, Herbosa said while some children may have a reaction to food, the substance in the coronavirus shots will be "different."
"But if you had a severe reaction to a previous vaccine, then you might not be a candidate for this vaccine. That’s why it’s important to disclose. When you go to the vaccination site, the parents must disclose the allergies of this particular child ," he told ANC's Headstart.
Meanwhile, Herbosa said he has not noted cases where asthma is triggered upon inoculation of the COVID-19 vaccine. There had been cases of asthma attacks, however, due to anxiety and stress from fear of the jab. To remedy this, he suggested briefing the children early on and having their inhaler ready on vaccination day.
"If you have registered your child, you have to start to have that conversation, talk to your child. Five to 11 are intelligent already, they learn a lot. So let them ask as much questions about this," he said.
"Very important to prime them. You can show them videos of children being vaccinated in other countries so that they will know it’s a familiar thing and the other advice is to bring like a prize for the kids after their vaccination, an incentive," he added.
Herbosa said that while deaths due to COVID-19 among children may be low, there had been a high number of admissions to the Philippine General Hospital from this age group when the country had a surge of Delta cases late last year. They had to be brought to the ICU and attached to ventilators, he said.
Additionally, there had been cases of 'long COVID' in adult patients, although it has not been closely monitored in the Philippines, he said.
"This is the reason why we, even the pediatric societies recommending because what you’re trying to prevent is not only death. We already know that children will survive easily, but if you have long COVID, imagine, the child cannot go into sports, into ballet, into dancing," he said.
Vaccination of children aged 5 to 11 will begin on February 4, with the first phase slated in Metro Manila. A pediatric formulation of the COVID-19 vaccine by Pfizer will be used for this age group. It has an efficacy rate of 90 percent among children aged 5 and above, with "very mild" adverse events, according to the national regulator.