MANILA— The Philippine's drug regulator on Saturday said authorities might consider including children between 12 and 17 years old for COVID-19 vaccination by the end of the year as long as there would be a steady supply of virus jabs.
In an interview on TeleRadyo, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Director General Eric Domingo said teens with comorbidities could be prioritized should their age group be included in the country's vaccination program soon.
"Palagay ko po na 4th quarter of the year, from October [to] December ay aabot na rin naman sa mga bata ang ating vaccination, pero 'yun nga po hanggang 12 years old pa lamang," Domingo said.
(Maybe by the 4th quarter of the year, the country's vaccination program could reach the younger age groups, but only up to 12 years old.)
"Kung hindi man lahat ng bata for example na 12 to 17 ang kayang bigyan, iniisip nila kung paano tayo ay may prioritization sa adults... baka possible na sa children baka 'yun din ang decision na uunahin muna 'yung mga at higher risk and then later on the healthier children," he added.
(If we cannot vaccinate all children between ages 12 and 17, we can prioritize instead those who have comorbidities because they are the ones who are at high risk for COVID-19)
The statement from the FDA chief came after the agency cleared Moderna's COVID-19 vaccines for 12 to 17 years old on Friday.
The Philippine FDA in August also approved emergency use of the Pfizer vaccine for children 12 and up.
Earlier this week, vaccine czar Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr. said the country is expecting delivery of 25 million COVID-19 shots this September alone, and some 137 million additional doses until the end of the year.
Despite this, however, Domingo reiterated that the decision for children to be vaccinated lies with the parents.
He urged them to read the product label of Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 jabs posted on their respective websites for an "informed decision."
"Hindi babakunahan ang anak ninyo hangga't di kayo pumapayag. Totoo naman na mayroon talagang adverse events, mayroong mild reactions," he explained.
(Your children cannot be vaccinated unless you agree. There would be some adverse events, and there would be mild reactions.)
The government is pinning its hopes for economic recovery on its inoculation program, which started in March.
At least 14.1 million people have been fully vaccinated from COVID-19 in the country as of Wednesday, government data showed.