MANILA — The country's health authorities on Thursday would proceed with the vaccination for children ages 5 to 11 next week, even as 2 parents filed a petition in a local court to declare it unconstitutional.
The petitioners have also questioned the Department of Health's (DOH) circular on vaccination for such sector, just as the country is set to begin its rollout next week.
"We remain steadfast in our commitment to protect all sectors of society, which include children and other vulnerable groups. As such, we will proceed with the vaccination rollout for the said age group as planned," according to a joint statement released by the DOH and National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19.
Children as young as 5 years old will be inoculated against COVID-19 through Pfizer's mRNA vaccine, which has an efficacy rate of 90 percent. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) earlier said the dosage for children is 10 micrograms.
The DOH and NTF also said the jabs for young children were screened by international health experts.
"The policy on vaccinating children aged five to 11 is the result of careful study by health experts and has been approved in many countries, including the United States of America which has one of the most stringent regulatory bodies in the world," the statement read.
"And as we have emphasized, all FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccines have been proven to be safe and effective," it added.
In fact, the agencies said, some 100,000 individuals have signed up for the rollout, signifying the parents' "willingness and confidence" to have their kids protected from COVID-19.
NTF Deputy Chief Implementer Vince Dizon, meanwhile, noted that it is the individuals' right to file a petition on the matter, and that they would let the case go through due course.
This is not a reason to suspend the vaccinations, he said.
"Tuloy pa rin. Hangga’t walang order ang korte, itutuloy pa rin, kasi napaka-importante talaga na mabigyan ng proteksyon ang ating mga kabataan," Dizon explained.
(It will continue unless there is a court order. It is important that these children get vaccinated to protect them from COVID-19.)
"Kasi talagang nakita naman natin yung omicron, marami sa mga kabataan natin, dahil hindi sila nabakunahan, hindi pa sila eligible e nagkasakit," he added.
(We can see the effect of omicron, many of our children are unvaccinated and they are getting sick.)
NO ADVERSE EFFECTS
DOH and NTF also emphasized that there were also no adverse effects recorded among 9 million teens ages 12 to 17 who received their novel coronavirus jabs last year.
"The vaccines that will be used for the children are reformulated, and contain a lower dosage compared to those given to the older age groups," it read.
"We enjoin all parents and guardians to make the right and informed decision for your children’s health and well-being."
Advisers to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in November last year unanimously supported broad use of Pfizer and BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine in children ages 5 to 11.
Experts had said the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks of the vaccine.
Philippines started its COVID-19 vaccination in March last year.
Misinformation online and the previous controversy of Dengvaxia are among the reasons why many Filipinos remain hesitant on COVID-19 vaccination, experts earlier said.
— With reports from Vivienne Gulla and Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News