COVID-19 jabs for kids aged 5-11 could start by January 2022 to combat Omicron variant — Galvez

James Relativo - Philstar.com
COVID-19 jabs for kids aged 5-11 could start by January 2022 to combat Omicron variant â Galvez
A teenager (C) receives the BioNtech-Pfizer Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine during the innoculation of young people aged 12 to 17, at a school in Taguig City, suburban Manila on November 10, 2021.
AFP / Ted Aljibe

MANILA, Philippines — The government is planning to inoculate more minors by early next year to combat the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), a move now being eyed with the threat of the heavily mutated Omicron variant overseas.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr., Monday, says they'll push for COVID-19 vaccines for children aged five to 11 as long as a new emergency use authorization (EUA) is issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by the end of 2021.

"Our plan is, once the [EUA] comes out, immediately we will execute it [vaccination]. We plan on doing it by the first quarter of 2022. So January we'll start and we want to finish that immediately in the first quarter," said Galvez in Filipino in an interview by CNN Philippines.

"The goal is that pediatric vaccination should be finished immediately [by the first quarter of 2022] so that our school opening could be started while protecting children from the Omicron [variant]."

FDA director general earlier said that COVID-19 vaccinations for children below 12 could be done by the end of 2021, with Pfizer and Sinovac among the brands already preparing their data and requirements for submission.

So far, only 12-year-olds and above could be given the life-saving vaccines. Dr. Alethea De Guzman, officer in charge of the Department of Health epidemiology bureau, said this morning that the Omicron variant has over 50 mutations which may cause increased transmissibility and immune evasion — a factor that could affect the efficacy of vaccines against the new variant of concern.

However, De Guzman says further studies still need to be done to prove if it spells more hazards to children.

"We don’t know yet the possibilities, the vulnerabilities of children with this [Omicron] variant," adds Galvez.

The DOH last Sunday already reported over 2.83 cases of COVID-19 infections in the Philippines since 2020. Among said number, 48,205 have already died.

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: January 14, 2022 - 10:14am

A new thread on the Philippines' vaccination program in 2021 in the government's revised objective to reach "population protection." Bookmark our COVID-19 and Vaccination Dashboard for the latest figures on the pandemic in the Philippines. — Main image: The STAR/Michael Varcas, file

January 14, 2022 - 10:14am

The percentage of the population with full vaccination has reached almost 50% at 53 million, says National Task Force adviser Dr. Ted Herbosa.

In an interview with dzBB, Herbosa suggests that five million more have yet to receive their second vaccine dose.

"Around 58 million have received at least the first dose of the vaccine against COVID-19 and 4.7 million have been jabbed with a booster," he says in Filipino.

View the COVID-19 and Vaccination Dashboard for the latest figures on the pandemic in the Philippines.

November 12, 2021 - 11:01am

Starting December 1, the vaccination of employees required to work on-site will be mandatory in the public and private sector in areas with sufficient COVID-19 jabs supply.

"However, eligible employees who remain to be unvaccinated may not be terminated but they shall be required to undergo regular RT-PCR testing, or antigen tests, at their own expense," Malacañang says.

November 3, 2021 - 10:11am

The Philippine government is targeting to administer at least 15 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines before the end of November, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. says.

The government aims to achieve 1 million to 1.5 million jabs per day starting November 20.

To achieve this, Galvez says about 4,000 to 5,000 vaccination sites would be activated, including malls, universities, schools, gyms, camps and function halls of different government agencies.

October 27, 2021 - 10:56am

The Philippine government will start the full rollout of COVID-19 vaccination among minors aged 12 to 17 on November 5.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire says the guidelines are being drafted.

October 25, 2021 - 9:02am

The Health Technology Assessment Council of the Department of Health recommends the rollout of COVID-19 vaccine booster shots for healthcare workers by fourth quarter of this year.

The council also recommends rolling out booster shots among eligible priority groups by next year.

HTAC says the recommendations are offered "in consideration of sufficient vaccine supply and acceptable coverage for primary vaccination."

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