Teens won't be included in vaccination program yet due to limited supply — DOH

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Teens won't be included in vaccination program yet due to limited supply â DOH
A health worker inoculates a resident with a dose of the AstraZeneca/Oxford Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine inside a Catholic church turned into a vaccination centre in Manila on May 21, 2021.
AFP / Ted Aljibe

MANILA, Philippines — Adolescents aged 12 to 15 years will not be prioritized for COVID-19 vaccination for now due to the limited supply of jabs, the Department of Health said Thursday.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said that while the vaccination of young people is being studied, vulnerable sectors such as health workers, senior citizens and persons with comorbidities remain the focus of the government’s inoculation efforts.

“We cannot include them yet [in the vaccination drive] because our supply of vaccines is limited and they are not included in the high-risk group,” Duque said in Filipino during a briefing.

“We need to follow our prioritization formula. We cannot deviate because if you expand the coverage to more individuals, we cannot achieve the protection needed by the most vulnerable groups,” he added.

Instead, the DOH is pushing for the speedy vaccination of the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions. The government is also gearing up to inoculate frontliners in essential sectors and indigent Filipinos by June.

The country’s Food and Drug Administration is set to allow the emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in children aged 12 to 15. The emergency use authorization granted to the Pfizer-BioNTech jab in January cleared it for use only in people aged 16 and up.

The move is seen as a crucial step toward reopening schools, which have been shut down by the pandemic, and help increase the level of immunity in the population. But at the moment, the country’s vaccine supply is limited and the rollout of the ultra-sensitive Pfizer jabs remains a challenge.

Nearly three months since the start of the country’s inoculation drive, only 1.02 million have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The figure represents only 0.94% of the country’s roughly 110 million population.

Meanwhile, 3.46 million people have received the first of two doses.



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