January 13 ------ Children will have to wait for a few more months to get inoculated as the vaccines currently available in the market have not been approved for their use. According to Lei Alviz’s report on “24 Oras” on Tuesday, the government will prioritize Filipino adults in the vaccination program to attain herd immunity against COVID-19. “The incidence of the disease on children is very low and so they were not prioritized. . . .There will be further research in the future when it will be cleared whether children should be vaccinated or not but at this point in time, we are not cleared on that,” Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, World Health Organization representative to the Philippines, said.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is not yet approved for individuals 15 years old and below, while the Moderna vaccine is not yet approved for people 17 years old and below. Based on data from the Department of Health, more than 28,000 or 6 percent of the COVID-19 cases in the country were individuals aged 16 years old and below. However, an infectious disease expert said even if children are not vaccinated against the virus, there is a low chance they will get infected once adults are already vaccinated.
“‘Yong tinatawag nating konsepto ng cocooning which means kung ‘yong mga tao sa paligid noong bata ay protektado, bababa ang tsansang mahawahan siya,” Dr. Anna Lisa Ong-Lim said. Earlier, vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said the Philippines targets to vaccinate some 50 to 70 million Filipinos this year. The Philippines has already allocated P73.2 billion for the procurement of the vaccines, with P40 billion coming from multilateral agencies, P20 billion from domestic sources, and P13.2 billion from bilateral agreements.
Meanwhile, the private sector has committed to procuring as much as six million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from British pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca, half of which will be donated to the Philippine government. Over the weekend, the Philippines has also inked the term sheet to secure 30 million doses of the Covovax vaccine to be manufactured by the Serum Institute of India.