More than 1,000 adolescents with comorbidities were vaccinated against COVID-19 Friday as the government began inoculating minors against the respiratory disease.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said if the vaccination for adolescents with comorbidities is successful, the rollout will be expanded to the general pediatric age group.
The Health department estimates there are about 1.2 million children with comorbidities between 12 and 17 years old nationwide.
Some 1,031 adolescents were vaccinated as of 4 p.m. Friday.
Most of them received their shots at the Philippine Heart Center, Makati Medical Center, St. Luke's Medical Center-Global City, and Pasig City Children's Hospital.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire previously said children seeking vaccination must get a clearance from their doctors and give their consent and assent. She advised parents to register their children through their local government units.
“Vaccination will not proceed if the doctor finds that the child cannot be immunized or if the parents or the child do not want it,” Vergeire said in Filipino.
Minors, she said, must be accompanied by a parent during the vaccination.
Duque assured parents that the vaccines being used on their children were safe, quality vaccines.
Pilot vaccination of children aged 12 to 17 began with eight hospitals starting Friday. These were Makati Medical Center, St. Luke's Hospital, Philippine Children Medical Center, National Children's Hospital, Philippine Heart Center, Pasig City Children’s Hospital, Fe Del Mundo Medical Center, and Philippine General Hospital.
Duque also denied the notion that the formulation of the COVID-19 vaccines for children had changed.
“That notion is wrong because the vaccines we import have been studied and really tested to be safe and of good quality, it's still free and will provide protection,” Duque said in Filipino on radio dzBB.
Duque said adverse reactions among the vaccinated population were very low, representing only 0.006 percent of all those inoculated.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given emergency use authorization to Moderna and Pfizer vaccines for use on those aged 12 to 17 years old.
On Thursday night, the Philippines received another shipment of Pfizer vaccines allotted for minors.
A total of 1,015,560 doses of government-procured vaccine doses arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport-Terminal 3 Thursday evening.
Of this shipment, 76,050 doses were delivered immediately to Cebu City via Air Hong Kong flight LD-457 while 77,220 were sent to Davao City onboard Philippine Airlines flight PR -809.
The 862,290 doses were offloaded at Manila airport and were immediately shipped to a cold-chain facility for temporary storage.
The latest vaccine delivery will be deployed to local government units in Metro Manila for the vaccination of minors, while the rest of the supply will be shipped to Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog.
“Vaccinating our children is a way for them to be able to resume in-person schooling, which is very important for their futures and the future of our countries,” said US Embassy Chargé d'Affaires Heather Variava following the arrival of the vaccines.
National Task Force Against COVID-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr., encouraged LGUs to scale up their vaccination rates.
“I’m encouraging all different LGU to be creative and coordinate with the military, stakeholders, and also the private sector so that you can use the malls, hospitals, sports centers, and you can use any facility that can be used as a vaccination center,” Galvez said.
Beginning this October, the country is expected to receive 11 million doses of Pfizer vaccines per month as part of the 40 million doses the country has secured from the American pharmaceutical firm.
As of Oct. 14, a total of 88,706,560 COVID-19 vaccine doses from various vaccine manufacturers have arrived in the Philippines.