MANILA (UPDATE) — The head of the government's vaccine expert panel said Friday she supports administering mRNA COVID-19 vaccines to children aged 5 and younger.
Dr. Nina Gloriani said studies of Pfizer and Moderna show the vaccines' efficacy is "around 80 percent."
"We are for that para po makumpleto ang ating proteksyon... Ang safety features nila ay pareho lang sa mga medyo may edad. Ang immunogenecity kasing taas, even slightly higher than 16 to 25 years old," she said in a televised briefing.
(We are for that so we can complete our protection... The safety features are the same with adults. It also has the same immunogenicity, even slightly higher than 16 to 25 years old.)
"Para sa kumpletong proteksyon sa lahat ay maganda mabigyan din natin ang mga bata. Nung nabigyan ng bakuna ang mga may edad, sila ang naprotektahan, naging vulnerable ang mga batang walang proteksyon, walang bakuna."
(We also need to give vaccines to children to complete protection for everyone. When the adults were given protection, children became vulnerable because they had no vaccine.)
Gloriani said she has yet to see the actual technical data which are submitted to the Food and Drug Administration.
She also reiterated the call of Dr. Rontgene Solante, also a member of the vaccine expert panel, to include persons with comorbidities and overseas Filipino workers in the rollout of the second booster.
The DOH, in a statement Saturday, said there were no manufacturers so far that have applied to the FDA to amend their EUA to include the said age group.
"This initiative will still have to be stringently reviewed and studied by regulatory institutions and our panel of experts before consideration for implementation," it said.
"Through demand generation, targeted messaging and different social mobilization activities, the DOH and NVOC are currently focusing efforts to ramp-up the rollout of vaccines for our current priority groups and to prioritize areas and specific age groups with a high number of unvaccinated and those yet to receive their 1st booster."
Gloriani reminded the public to get an additional dose as there were still some 40 million individuals eligible to receive the jab.
"Hindi enough ang 2 [doses] lang, you need the 3rd dose at least," she said.
(Two doses are not enough, you need the 3rd dose at least.)
The Philippines currently allows COVID-19 vaccination for individuals ages 5 years old and above. It recently released guidelines for additional doses for children ages 12 to 17.
Some 9.5 million adolescents and 3.4 million children ages 5 to 11 have received their primary series as of Monday, according to Department of Health data.
A total of 70.5 million persons have been fully vaccinated, of whom 15 million have received their booster shots.