Children aged 5 to 11 are now eligible for Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine, as the local Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) approved the brand's emergency use authorization (EUA) on Dec. 23—but the roll-out won't start any time soon.
FDA director general Eric Domingo made the announcement during the Dec. 23 Laging Handa press briefing, taking note of Pfizer vaccine's high efficacy rate as well as the lack of "unusual important safety signals" detected among the age group.
“Its efficacy rate is high, above 90% for kids 5 to 11 years," Domingo said. "At the same time, the adverse effects in the clinical trials were only very mild. A bit of a fever, some pain in the area of injection."
"It is reasonable to believe that the vaccine may be effective to prevent COVID-19," he added, "and benefits outweigh the known and potential risks."
But the jabs for 5- to 11-year-olds, the FDA chief said, should have lower dosage and concentration compared to the previous ones being administered to adolescents aged 12 to 17 and the adults.
This means that the government will have to procure a new batch of Pfizer vaccines altogether that would cater to the age group.
“Last week, we told the Task Force...that it will be a different vaccine for 5- to 11- year-olds," Domingo said. "So, they will have to order and procure this separately."
Pfizer applied for the EUA early this month.
The Philippines has started giving COVID-19 vaccines to 12- to 17-year-olds late October, while the booster shot roll-out kicked off during first week of December.
To date, the country has administered over 102 million COVID-19 vaccine doses. Over 44.2 million Filipinos have already been fully vaccinated against the disease, while some 1.1 million have received their boosters.