MANILA - The Philippines on Friday began the vaccination of children aged 12 to 17 with health risks in an expansion of its jab coverage against COVID-19.
At least 12 children with comorbidities, aged 15 to 17 would receive the anti-virus jab developed by US drugmaker Pfizer, Philippine General Hospital spokesperson Dr. Jonas Del Rosario said.
Apart from PGH, inoculation for children are scheduled in these hospitals: Philippines Children's Medical Center, National Children's Hospital, Philippine Heart Center, Pasig City Children's Hospital, Fe Del Mundo Medical Center, Philippine General Hospital, St. Luke's Medical Center, and Makati Medical Center.
Children with any of 11 comorbidities that the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines cited, are eligible for vaccination, the Department of Health earlier said.
The list of conditions include autoimmune disorders, neurologic conditions, metabolic and endocrine conditions, cardiovascular disease, obesity, HIV infection, tuberculosis, chronic respiratory disease, renal disorders, and hepatobiliary.
The inoculation program will expand to 17 hospitals in Metro Manila beginning Oct. 22, according to the DOH
Children must secure clearance from their doctors and consent from their parents, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire had said.
Adults, who are more vulnerable to the respiratory illness, must remain a priority for vaccination, groups representing pediatric doctors earlier said.
They are urged to get inoculated against COVID-19 to protect children who are ineligible for a jab, according to Dr. Anna Ong-Lim, member of the Department of Health's Technical Advisory Group.
Lim earlier told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo that the rise of virus infections among children during the peak of the country's recent surge was not unusual as cases in all age groups were increasing due to the higher viral load of the Delta variant.
The DOH last week confirmed that the country's daily COVID-19 cases have declined and that its decrease was "not artificial."
Government might relax restrictions by Christmas should virus cases continue to drop, Vergeire said.
President Rodrigo Duterte said he was confident that major cities nationwide would have vaccinated half of their target population before 2021 is over.
The country has fully vaccinated some 23.54 million out of its target 77 million, while 26.94 million have received their first dose as of Tuesday, according to government data.