According to the Department of Health (DOH), pediatric vaccination will begin among 12 to 17-year-olds with comorbidities as part of Priority Group A3. Extension beyond this group will occur if the A2 priority group, or senior citizens, has received appropriate coverage across the country and vaccine supplies are enough to accommodate children.
Following reports on the Health Technology Assessment Council's (HTAC) referral on booster shots, DOH clarified that the Health Secretary’s guidelines are interim recommendations to direct sectoral planning and will be modified awaiting the Philippine Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) assessment on the amendment of the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) and the release of the World Health Organization Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (WHO SAGE).
Dr. Edsel Salvana said in a press briefing on Tuesday, Nov. 2 that administering booster shots is still in study to know what’s appropriate for the general population, as well as for the immunocompromised and senior citizens.
“Unahin natin ‘yung mga hindi pa nabakunahan versus gamitin ‘tong mga vaccines na ‘to for boosters po,” he stated.
He added that the United States went ahead with their boosters rollout for the immunocompromised and those above 60 years old. Those with occupational risks should also get booster doses, such as healthcare workers though optional. For now, the group is still in the process of data collection.
Salvana declared that the government should use vaccine supply for vaccinating people who have not yet received their first dose, compared to booster shots.
“Habang mababa pa ang [bilang ng mga] nabakunahan sa isang bansa, mas effective itong mga bakuna na ginagamit dun sa mga hindi pa nabakunahan bago natin sila gamitin para sa booster, dahil mas marami ang mape-prevent from being hospitalized,” Salvana said.
Regarding the vaccination for teens aged 12-17 years old, Salvana commented that it is vital to prioritize the vaccine rollout for the youths before thinking about the boosters as kids can infect and be infected and are also at risk. Once the vulnerable sectors are vaccinated, pediatric vaccination should already administer.
“Makakabuti pa rin na i-vaccinate natin ‘yung mga bata para mas kaunti ‘yung madapuan ng virus,” he said.
Furthermore, Salvana said that the vaccination for children ages 5-11 years old is not yet possible in the country as the United States has just approved the vaccine brand Pfizer to be injected into the said age group. Pfizer has yet to apply to the EUA for the extension to the younger age group in the Philippines.
“It’s really the best interest that we vaccinate as many people as possible including the young ones, once may EUA na tayo even before we even think about boosters,” Salvana remarked.
The DOH also urged all adults who are eligible to be vaccinated and benefit from the added security that vaccines provide to protect children who cannot be vaccinated at this time.