MANILA - The Philippines is considering a "looming proposal" to vaccinate minors to help the country increase its COVID-19 vaccination target to 80 percent of the population, a Health official said Tuesday.
The Philippines originally hoped to vaccinate 70 percent of the population, but several experts say more people have to be vaccinated against COVID-19 due to the more contagious Delta variant, Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje said in an online press conference.
"There is a looming proposal na kailangan taasan pa 'yung vaccine coverage natin to 80 percent," said Cabotaje, who also chairs the National Vaccine Operations Center (NVOC).
"That means isasama yung 18-years old and below... We might need to give children below 16 to 18-years old, especially those with comorbidities," she said.
(That means we will include those below 18-years old in the vaccination program.)
The proposal has yet to be finalized as officials still "need to look at our vaccine supply," she said.
"We have an adolescent trial group that is ongoing para makita din yung epekto ng bakuna sa mga bata (so that we can see the effect of vaccines in children)," Cabotaje said.
"In the next coming months, masasagot na yang mga katanungan na yan with more data coming in," she said.
(In the coming days, we will be answering those questions with more data coming in.)
So far only Pfizer and Sinovac have asked the Food and Drug Administration to authorize the emergency use of their COVID-19 vaccines on minors.
As of August 2, 2021, the Philippines has fully vaccinated 9.3 million Filipinos, while 11.8 million others have received their first dose.
Nearly all health workers in the country have been vaccinated, while only a third of senior citizens and persons with comorbidities have been fully inoculated against COVID-19, data from the DOH showed.
The National Capital Region is expected to vaccinate 70 percent of its population either by September or by October, Cabotaje said.