All set for COVID-19 vaccination for minors with comorbidities on Oct. 15

October 15 ------ The Philippine government will officially start offering coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines to children aged 12 to 17 years old with comorbidities starting Friday, Oct. 15. The pediatric vaccination will be rolled out in selected hospitals in Metro Manila, the Department of Health (DOH) said. These hospitals include: National Children’s Hospital in Quezon City, Philippine Heart Center in Quezon City, Pasig City Children’s Hospital, Fe Del Mundo Medical Center in Quezon City, Philippine General Hospital in Manila, Makati Medical Center in Makati City, St. Luke’s Medical Center in Taguig City, and Philippine Children’s Medical Center in Quezon City.

On October 4, the DOH released the list of comorbidities of children aged 12 to 17 who will be given priority for COVID-19 vaccination. The list includes those children with medical complexity, genetic conditions, neurologic conditions, metabolic/ endocrine, cardiovascular disease, obesity, HIV infection, tuberculosis, chronic respiratory disease, renal disorders, and hepatobiliary. Only two brands of COVID-19 vaccines will be given to children—the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. These vaccines were granted an emergency use authorization by the Philippine Food and Drug Administration for use on 12 to 17 age group.

The World Health Organization on Thursday, Oct. 14, expressed its support for the start of the pediatric vaccination in the Philippines. “WHO strongly supports this as it is a SAGE (Strategic Advisory Group of Experts) recommendation–adolescents between 12 to 17 years who have comorbidities. We are encouraging them to be included in the primary group of vaccinations for vulnerable population. So, we support this,” said WHO Country Representative to the Philippines Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe during the Malacañang press briefing.

In a press briefing last Oct. 4, DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that children with comorbidities should need a medical certificate from their physicians before they will be able to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. An informed consent by the parent /guardian and the child is also needed, according to an official of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society of the Philippines (PIDSP).

“Kapag pumunta po sila sa vaccination site, dapat iyong bata, iyong teenager kasama niya iyong kaniyang magulang o ng kaniyang legal guardian. Iyong legal guardian po niya ang papaliwagan at bibigyan ng information tungkol sa bakuna at siya ang pipirma ng consent,” said PIDSP member Dr. Drew Camposano during a public press briefing recently. “Iyong bata naman, siya ay bibigyan din ng information at kung siya ay papayag, siya ay pipirma ng assent….So, mayroon pong kailangang pirmahan, both silang dalawa,” he added.

Camposano said healthcare practitioners will observe vaccinees for at least 15 to 30 minutes post-vaccination. “Kung wala naman puwede na siyang umuwi, pero bibigyan din naman sila ng mga instructions kung ano iyong kailangan nilang bantayan. Kung ano iyong mga possible na side effects, kung sino ang puwedeng nilang tawagan kung ma-experience nila ang mga ito…Katulad din po ng ginagawa natin sa older people,” he said.