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Concepcion urges HTAC: Speed up boosters for minors

Louella Desiderio - The Philippine Star
Concepcion urges HTAC: Speed up boosters for minors
Children aged 5 to 11 years old, accompanied by their guardians, receive COVID-19 vaccine jabs at the Marikina Sports Complex on Friday, Feb. 11, 2022, the fifth day of pediatric vaccination in Metro Manila.
The STAR / Walter Bollozos

MANILA, Philippines — Presidential adviser for entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion yesterday called on the Health Technology Assessment Council (HTAC) to move fast in allowing booster shots for individuals 12 to 17 years old.

“I am appealing again to HTAC to please, for the nation, let’s move faster. Let’s approve the 12 to 17 to get their booster shot because they will be going to school this coming August,” Concepcion said during the Laging Handa public briefing.

Concepcion made the appeal as the booster rollout for 12- to 17-year-old individuals has been put on hold by the Department of Health (DOH).

“The HTAC is moving slowly and so the DOH is facing difficulties. Many are frustrated right now,” Concepcion said, adding the vaccines have been important in maintaining the level of immunity against the virus and allowing the reopening of the economy.

He said the return of non-boostered children to face-to-face classes in August would expose those who have waning immunity to possible infection.

“If these kids get sick, their parents will have to stay home and take care of them, and we will have one less productive person helping our economy recover. This is not counting the additional financial burden on their already-strained household budgets,” he said.

Concepcion warned that delaying the boosters for the 12- to 17-year individuals would have dire consequences on the country’s recovery.

Wait for consensus

Philippine Foundation for Vaccination executive director Dr. Lulu Bravo yesterday said there is a need to wait for the consensus of experts before booster shots are given to non-immunocompromised adolescents.

“It is very important that we consult our experts first as they are the ones issuing guidelines such as the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NITAG). I was able to talk to one of its members and they said there is no need to rush and that we can still afford to wait for a consensus by experts,” Bravo said in a television interview.

“Once a consensus has been reached then booster shots can be administered not only to the immunocompromised but to the general population of age group 12 to 17,” Bravo said, adding that for now, the public is still safe as long as they are able to get their primary doses.

The DOH earlier postponed the administration of the COVID-19 booster dose for non-immunocompromised children aged 12 to 17.

Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje said the HTAC wants at least 40 percent of senior citizens of an area to be covered by the first booster shot before moving on to non-immunocompromised adolescents.

‘Take F2F seriously’

The incoming Marcos administration should take the resumption of face-to-face classes “very seriously” to avoid repercussions not just on the overall economy but more so on the development of Filipino kids, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Chua reiterated yesterday.

Chua maintained that he has personally written outgoing Education Secretary Leonor Briones and Health Secretary Francisco Duque regarding the obsolete rules that should be removed or addressed to allow more children to go to school.

“NEDA’s mandate covers development and for us education is the foundation of development. I hope these will be taken very seriously,” he said, adding that economic recovery from the pandemic will be much stronger if all children will be safely back inside classrooms. – Louise Maureen Simeon, Rhodina Villanueva

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