MANILA - An additional P20 billion will be needed if the Philippines decides to vaccinate teenagers or children aged 12 to 15 against COVID-19, Finance Sec. Carlos "Sonny" Domínguez III said Monday.
Dominguez said that once the Department of Health and the inter-agency COVID-19 task force (IATF) include the country's teen population of at least 15 million in the national inoculation program, there will be enough funds to cover it.
"We estimate that will cost another P20 billion, but we have enough reserves to cover that amount of money," he said in a taped public briefing.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) earlier authorized the use of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for minors as young as 12 years old.
While the Pfizer jabs have been approved for minors, this age group has yet to be a priority in the Philippines' vaccination program, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told ABS-CBN News in a text message.
The DOH said it has been studying the efficacy of child-friendly COVID-19 vaccines that have been approved in the United States and other countries earlier this year.
Dominguez, meanwhile, noted the Philippines has P85 billion for the COVID-19 shots allotted for at least 70 million adult Filipinos, of whom government has targeted to vaccinate to achieve herd immunity in the country.
This is P2.5 billion more than his previous statement wherein he said P82.5 billion is enough to inoculate the country's adult population.
Amid massive vaccine donations being sent to the Philippines and loans from foreign banks, some senators have sought full accounting of the government's COVID-19 response budget before it asks for more funds to procure additional jabs.
The National Task Force against COVID-19 said its chief implementer and vaccine czar Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr. will share with the Senate on Tuesday “details that can be disclosed at this time based on the confidentiality agreements.”