MANILA— The government is eyeing the inclusion of individuals aged 12 to 17 in the Philippines' COVID-19 vaccination rollout, in a bid to ramp up the country's virus response, an official leading the coronavirus inoculation strategy said.
In an interview with ABS-CBN News, vaccine czar Sec. Carlito Galvez, Jr. explained that the government is still waiting for “conclusive reports” on vaccine trials for the said age group, the results of which could be released some time between June and July.
“There are many vaccine makers who are testing their vaccines on people below 18 to 12 years old. We are very confident that by end of June or July we can have some conclusive reports from these trials,” Galvez said.
At present, the country's COVID-19 vaccine candidates with emergency use authorization (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are only for ages 18 years and above.
A vaccine manufacturer will have to submit their clinical trial findings and secure EUA from the FDA before its jabs can be used on individuals below 18 years old.
Meanwhile, the government plans to vaccinate children below 12 years old from the novel coronavirus, once jabs for them become available, he said.
“We cannot be fully safe if these population below 18 (years old) are not vaccinated. They comprise more than 29 million people,” according to Galvez.
If there are new findings from the vaccine manufacturers that their vaccines were authorized for certain ages, the FDA will review this with the country's vaccine expert panel to "issue an amendment to the EUA," National Task Force against COVID-19 Spokesperson Restituto Padilla said.
“Nagpapatuloy pa ang pag-aaral tungkol sa paggamit ng bakuna para sa mga bata," Padilla noted.
"The national expert panel on vaccines is actually closely following all developments throughout the entire world, especially from the manufacturers of the current vaccines which have been approved and given EUA,” he added.
US pharmaceutical giants Pfizer, BioNtech, and Novavax have been developing jabs that may be administered to kids under 12-years old.
On the other hand, Pfizer Inc and German partner BioNTech SE began testing their COVID-19 vaccine in children under 12 in March, which will include children as young as 6 months.
— With reports from Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News