700 senior citizen healthcare workers have received Sinovac jab â FDA
Undated photo shows coronavirus vaccine candidate developed by Sinovac Biotech Ltd.
Sinovac, file

700 senior citizen healthcare workers have received Sinovac jab — FDA

(Philstar.com) - April 8, 2021 - 12:31pm

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 4:20 p.m.) — The country's Food and Drug Administration on Thursday assured that hundreds of senior citizens have already been inoculated with the COVID-19 jab developed by Chinese drugmaker Sinovac Biotech and those who experienced adverse effects only did so within the usual limits.

FDA the previous day allowed the use of Sinovac on the elderly, citing the recommendations of experts, the currently high transmission of COVID-19 and the limited availability of the badly-needed jabs.

"There are over 700 healthcare workers who are 60 and above who have been inoculated with Sinovac by signing a waiver in their hospitals," FDA director general Eric Domingo told state-run PTV.

"We can see that the adverse events following immunization of senior citizens of Sinovac's vaccine are low and within acceptable levels."

The emergency use authorization issued to CoronaVac last February cleared the jab for use only on “clinically healthy” individuals aged 18 to 59 but Domingo reiterated that the protection offered by the jab to senior citizens, a large percentage of whom die when they contract COVID-19, outweighs any risk.

"What's good about emergency use authorization is that it can be continuously revised," Domingo said in Filipino.

"In [Sinovac's case], we already have data from its use on senior citizen healthcare workers so we know that it's safe to use on our senior citizens as long as they have been screened correctly," he added in Filipino and English.

Senator: 'Massive info campaign' needed to reassure public

Sen. Risa Hontiveros later Thursday urged the FDA, the health department, and the coronavirus task force to hold a "massive info campaign" to clearly explain to the public the science behind their decision to allow the use of Sinovac on the elderly. 

"Every time the [FDA] makes a pronouncement then amends it, it adds more anxiety to a public that already has high vaccine distrust," Hontiveros warned. 

"FDA as our main regulator for food, drugs and vaccines must always communicate any updates on the science clearly, especially on something as important as which vaccines to use for highly vulnerable groups like senior citizens." 

Hontiveros also called on the Department of Health to provide free health profiling and executive checkups for senior citizens.

"The info campaign and health check up will ensure that if a senior decides to be vaccinated she or he is doing it with genuine full and informed consent," she said. 

— Bella Perez-Rubio 

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