MANILA - The Philippines needs to procure 60 million more COVID-19 vaccine doses should the national government include children in its inoculation program, the country's vaccine czar said Monday, after reports that some coronavirus jabs are now approved for use in minors.
Sinovac recently gained China's approval to use its jabs on children between 3 and 17-years old.
"Ang nakikita namin dito, mayroon tinatawag na pediatric vaccination at may 39 million na population tayo diyan," Galvez said.
(If we consider pediatric vaccinations, we need to cater to 39 million who are part of that population.)
"Kapag magkaroon tayo ng (If we will have an) opening for pediatric vaccinations, it will increase our demand for vaccines... We need to buy more vaccines, more or less, 60 million more," he said.
Last week, Galvez said the government is eyeing to vaccinate the "pediatric sector" against COVID-19 in September, at the earliest. He, however, provided then a smaller population figure of 29 million.
"We are looking forward na iyong 29 million na pediatric sector natin ay mababakunahan natin. Iyon po ina-ano po namin by September or October," he told a press briefing last June 1.
(We are looking forward to vaccinating our 29 million pediatric sector. We are targeting that by September or October.)
Aside from Sinovac, Pfizer and Moderna have also been preparing to seek Emergency Use Authorizations for their COVID-19 vaccines on children.
At present, the country's COVID-19 vaccine candidates with EUA from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are only for ages 18 and above.
But the drug regulator had said it would amend Pfizer's EUA and clear it for use of 12- to 15-year-olds.
The possible inclusion of children in the Philippines' COVID-19 vaccination program will not change the prioritization given to the elderly and more vulnerable sectors in accessing the jabs, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said.
"All of these are a welcome development, basta 'yung prioritization sunod pa rin tayo (as long as we still follow the prioritization)," he said.
The national government hopes to vaccinate at 58 to 70 million people this year to attain herd immunity against the disease that has infected at least 1.2 million individuals nationwide.
As of June 6, over 1.5 million Filipinos have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the Department of Health (DOH).
The government has been inoculating an average 112,621 people daily in the past 7 days, it said.
"At this pace, we'll reach the target of 70 million people in 3.3 years or by September 2024, said ABS-CBN's Data Analytics head Edson Guido.
The Philippines' inoculation pace slowed down for the second straight week as vaccine supply dwindled, he noted.
"It's a good thing that 1 million fresh Sinovac doses arrived yesterday," said Guido.
The national government is expecting to receive at least 30 million vaccines from June to August this year, Galvez said.
"Dadagsa na po ang bulto ng bakuna. Makakatanggap po tayo ng 30 to 40 million [vaccines] this coming June, July and August," he said.
(The bulk of the vaccines will arrive in the country soon. We will receive 30 to 40 million vaccines this coming June, July and August.)
"Malaki yung bulto na makukuha natin sa August, more or less 17 million. Ngayong June, makakatanggap po tayo ng 10 to 11 million [vaccines]," he said.
(The bulk will come in August, more or less 17 million. This June, we will receive about 10 to 11 million vaccines.)
As of June 6, the Philippines has nearly 10 million COVID-19 vaccine doses that are used to inoculate medical frontliners, senior citizens, persons with comorbidities and workers in essential sectors.
Video from PTV