COVID-19 vaccination for children eyed by end-2021 or early next year 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

COVID-19 vaccination for children eyed by end-2021 or early next year — DOH

(Philstar.com) - June 22, 2021 - 6:45pm

MANILA, Philippines — A health official on Tuesday said vaccinations for children against COVID-19 could begin by end of 2021 or early next year. 

Inoculations in the country are still on those in government's priority list — or health workers, the elderly, those with comorbidities, and essential workers. Such efforts, which began in March, have yielded over 2.1 million individuals fully vaccinated out of officials' target of 50 to 70 million this year. 

Usec. Myrna Cabotaje told a Laging Handa briefing that experts are still studying the move, and government is likely to finish those in priority groups. 

"We are looking that those in A1, A2 and A3 go first because they are the most at risk and most vulnerable," she said in Filipino. "So probably we would be vaccinating teenagers by end of the year or beginning next year."

Local regulators have cleared Pfizer's COVID-19 jab for emergency use on 12 to 15-year-olds. The country has received initial supply of the vaccine from the COVAX Facility, while some 40 million purchased doses may arrive by August. 

Cabotaje said inoculating children would still depend on the country's vaccine supply. "We will be looking if the child or pediatric population can be included in the next batch of Pfizer."

She added that the first shipment would be for 7.5 million doses in the third quarter of the year, while 32.5 million will reach the country by the fourth.

Vaccines have remained crucial in President Rodrigo Duterte shunning proposals for a safe return to schools in areas with low virus transmission.

On Monday, he turned down a new pitch by the Department of Education, citing the presence of the Delta variant of COVID-19 and for the need to inoculate more of the population.

Groups have repeatedly warned that prolonging school closures would mean prevailing difficulties for students in their learning.

Classes in the Philippines will officially end on July 10, the first year of schooling under the pandemic. And with word that vaccinations for the said age group would be by end-2021, it is likely that children would have to spend another year of learning in lockdown. 

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