MANILA — The Philippine drug regulator said it amended on Friday the emergency use authorization of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, clearing it for 12 to 17-year-olds, as the highly infectious coronavirus Delta variant hit some children.
Moderna's wider EUA was approved "after a thorough evaluation of our vaccine experts and our regulatory experts," said Food and Drug Administration chief Eric Domingo.
He said doctors have to watch out for "very rare" cases of myocarditis that those who receive Moderna and another mRNA vaccine, Pfizer-BioNTech, may develop.
Myocarditis is a type of inflammation of the heart muscle.
There have been no US deaths reported for young adults who developed myocarditis after being given the mRNA vaccines, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said last week.
Separately, it also said that a total of 2,574 US cases of myocarditis or pericarditis had been reported. At least 330 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines have been administered in the United States.
"Definitely, with the Delta variant affecting a lot of children, nakita po ng ating mga expert (our experts saw) that the benefit of using the vaccine outweighs the risk," Domingo said in a televised public briefing.
The Philippine FDA in August also approved the emergency use of the Pfizer vaccine for children aged 12 and up.
Domingo said the prioritization of age groups in the inoculation drive remained up to the health department.
"Kapag na-decide na po nila na aabot na tayo sa prioritization, aabot na po sa less than 18, ‘yong 12 to 17 [years old], doon po magbabakuna na ng mga bata," he said.
(If they decide that the vaccination drive will cover those below 18 years old, the 12 to 17, that is when we will vaccinate children.)
With 2 million confirmed infections and 33,680 deaths, the Philippines has the second highest number of COVID-19 cases and fatalities in Southeast Asia, after Indonesia.
The Philippines aims to vaccinate up to 70 million people before the year ends to achieve herd immunity and safely reopen the economy. At least 14 million have been fully inoculated so far.
— With a report from Reuters
Video courtesy of PTV