The government could start vaccinating minors aged 12 to 17 against COVID-19 by October, a Health official said Sunday.
In an interview with radio dzBB, Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje said the government's panel of experts has approved COVID-19 jabs for this age group but has yet to determine when these inoculations should start.
She said policies and guidelines were being set and said those with comorbidities should be given priority.
Cabotaje said the consent of the parents and the children would be needed before the jabs are administered.
The Philippines has administered 41,247,552 doses of COVID-19 vaccines nationwide as of Sept. 18, the National Task Force Against COVID-19 (NTF) reported on Sunday.
Based on the National COVID-19 vaccination dashboard data, 22,771,602 Filipinos have received the first dose while 18,475,950 are now fully protected against the dreaded disease.
The average daily doses administered in the last seven days stood at 374,612 doses.
The Philippine National Police (PNP), meanwhile, has offered its camps and other facilities as vaccination sites for minor dependents of its uniformed and civilian personnel.
PNP chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said he directed Administrative Support for COVID-19 Task Force head Lt. Gen. Joselito Vera Cruz to begin the listing of the PNP personnel’s minor dependents.
Based on the PNP-Administrative Support for Covid-19 Task Force data, more than 131,000 PNP personnel have already been fully vaccinated while more than 80,000 others have already received their first dose.
Eleazar said they intend to vaccinate the entire 222,711 PNP personnel before the end of this year as only 1,554 of them have yet to receive their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
He said using police camps and other facilities at least for children and other dependents of the PNP personnel would help decongest the vaccination sites of the local government units once the vaccination of people 12 to 17 years old starts.
On Saturday, the country received 961,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine and 190,000 Sputnik V jabs.
With the latest shipment, Moderna has now shipped 5 million doses of its vaccine to the Philippines.
Of the new doses, 712,800 will go to the national government and 248,000 will go to the private sector, Cabotaje said.
Ted Herbosa, special adviser to the National Task Force Against COVID-19, said most of the jabs will be allocated to Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Cebu, and some portions of the Visayas and Mindanao.
He also said a small portion of Moderna will be allocated to Metro Manila residents who will receive their second jabs of the Moderna vaccine.
The delivery is part of the 2 million expected Moderna vaccine arrivals this month.
At the same time, Cabotaje said those who had received their first jab of Sputnik V could still get the second dose, despite the delay in its arrival.
She said unlike other COVID-19 vaccine brands, Russia's Gamaleya Institute uses different components for its first and second doses.
Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez said the Component 2 Sputnik vaccines will be distributed in areas where the first doses were first delivered, particularly in Bohol, Isabela and Bacoor, the National Capital Region and some areas in Region 3 and Region 4-A.
Cabotaje said they are also seeking an increase in supply of the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine from the COVAX facility because senior citizens, the most vulnerable group, prefer the jab.
She added that the J&J shots are also better suited for some Muslim communities that are “nomadic in nature.”
“Badjaos might not be tracked again for a second dose because they are always moving from place to place,” she said.
Galvez thanked the Russian Direct Investment Fund for fulfilling its promise to deliver the 190,000 doses of Sputnik V’s Component 2 vaccine against COVID-19.
“We are apologizing for the delay of this Component 2 considering that we have some supply issues and as promised by Russian Direct Investment Fund that this will be delivered today, and I’m very thankful that they fulfilled their promise,” Galvez said during the arrival of the Sputnik V jabs at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 in Pasay City Saturday night.
Also on Sunday, Senior Citizen party-list Rep. Rodolfo Ordanes said he favored booster shots for those at high risk and most vulnerable among the A1, A2, and A3 groups.
“I am in favor of giving COVID booster shots but initially only to those who are most vulnerable because of advanced age (65 years or older), comorbidities, including children and teens with serious medical vulnerabilities, and of course our heroic health-care frontliners in high-risk direct exposure in hospitals, isolation facilities, and temporary care facilities,” he said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Manila Mayor Francisco "Isko Moreno" Domagoso appealed to the public against attempts to get "booster shots" in the city's vaccination sites.
Domagoso and Vice Mayor Honey Lacuna, who were both earlier tested positive for COVID-19, said this would amount to depriving others of the much-needed protection from the coronavirus.
Domagoso said booster shots are still not allowed, in fact, he said the country is still preparing to vaccinate the minors, or those aged 12 to 17.