MANILA (2nd UPDATE) —The Philippines on Wednesday began the vaccination of all children aged 12 to 17 in an expansion of its pediatric jab coverage against COVID-19.
Government aims to inoculate at least 80 percent or some 9 million out of 12 million children by yearend, the Department of Health earlier said.
The program was initially rolled out to children with comorbidities last month. Some 40,419 children with health risks have received an initial dose as of Tuesday, according to Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje.
Around 30 minor cases of adverse reactions have been recorded so far, which include rashes, headache and anxiety reaction, Cabotaje said. At least 2 vaccinees experienced anaphylactic or allergic reaction, she added.
The pediatric vaccination was kicked off in Metro Manila but other regions that are already prepared may also begin, Cabotaje said. The program will be rolled out in the rest of the country on Friday, she added.
The expansion of the pediatric vaccination aims to encourage other family members to get vaccinated and boost confidence in the resumption of in-person classes, the DOH official earlier said.
Adults, however, are urged to get inoculated against the respiratory illness to protect children who are not yet eligible to receive the jab.
Some 27.4 million Filipinos have been fully vaccinated, while 31.95 million others have received a first dose as of Monday, according to government data.
For Dr. Anna Ong-Lim, a pediatric infectious diseases expert, administering anti-virus jabs to children will help the country achieve herd immunity.
Herd immunity occurs when a large part of the population is immune to a specific disease.
Vaccinating children will also allow them more mobility after being forced to stay home since schools in the country were closed in March last year, Lim said.
"By providing them with vaccines, we are more confident na kung babalik na sila sa (if they return to) face-to-face [classes] ay hindi sila masyadong (they are not very much) exposed," she said.
"Mababawasan ang risk sa kanila at malaking tulong din ito para sa entire community para makabalik na sa normal na kilos."
(It will reduce their risk [of getting COVID-19] and this will also help the entire community to return to their normal life.)
Expanding pediatric vaccinations to children below 12 is the "next target," Lim said.
In the US, a panel of government advisors recommended the use of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in children ages 5 to 11.
Quezon City, the largest city in Metro Manila, aims to inoculate 14,000 children daily as it hopes to administer the jab to 240,000 kids aged 12 to 17 by end of the month, said its mayor Joy Belmonte.
Children must be pre-registered as walk-ins are currently prohibited, authorities said.
For minors without comorbidities, the following are the vaccination sites for Wednesday, Nov. 3:
- District 1 - Esteban Abada Elementary School
- District 3 - Quirino Elementary School
- Distrct 4 - Pinyahan Elementary School
- District 5 - Good Shepherd Parish
- District 6 - Pasong Tamo Elementary School
Meanwhile, those with comorbidities will be vaccinated at the Commonwealth Hospital, Rosario Maclang Bautista General Hospital and East Avenue Medical Center.
Quezon City has so far fully vaccinated 1.7 million individuals or 80 percent of its eligible adult population, Belmonte said.
— Report from Jervis Manahan and Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News