DOH to roll out Pfizer boosters for kids 12-17

Rhodina Villanueva - The Philippine Star
DOH to roll out Pfizer boosters for kids 12-17
The general pediatric population (children ages 12 to 17 years old) receives the first dose of Pfizer vaccine at the Marikina Sports Center,
The STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) yesterday announced that the first booster vaccine for adolescents aged 12 to 17 years old will soon be implemented.

The DOH’s National COVID-19 Vaccination Operations Center (NVOC) said the booster shots, from Pfizer-BioNTech, will be given at least five months after the second dose of the primary series, regardless of the brand of the primary series vaccine.

Though no date was mentioned, the DOH, in a statement, stressed it will start implementation of the rollout once the NVOC has finalized the revised implementing guidelines for giving booster doses to the 12 to 17 age group.

This follows the vaccination of the immunocompromised from the same population group, which started last June 23, 2022.

NVOC Incident Manager Dr. Maria Rosario Vergeire said, “NVOC would like to thank our esteemed colleagues in the Health Technology Assessment Council (HTAC) for their support in boosting our wall of immunity. We appreciate their work as experts ensuring the most cost-effective and beneficial use of our health resources.”

Vergeire added that “NVOC will be releasing the implementation guidelines very soon.”
Meanwhile, DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III said that “once guidelines are finalized, we are ready for rollout, within the week we can see the booster dose being utilized for the rest of 12 to 17 age group.”

The DOH earlier announced that the administration of the booster dose for non-immunocompromised adolescents had been postponed after the HTAC set such requirement.

Currently, booster doses are only made available to all adults and to adolescents considered as immunocompromised.

Meanwhile, Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion welcomed the decision of the HTAC to reverse its recommendation, paving the way for the booster vaccinations of 12 to 17 year-old non-immunocompromised children.

“It was very big of them to do so, and I commend them for it. It must not have been an easy thing to do, but with hope, we can move on with fewer obstructionist policies and all work together to exit from this pandemic,” he said.

Concepcion had earlier criticized the HTAC for being too slow to act on COVID vaccine policies, and even contradicting itself on its decision to give boosters.

Their actions, he said, have dire consequences on the country’s economic recovery. He has also recommended that the task of rolling out vaccines should be given to the Vaccine Expert Panel, with the HTAC dealing with non-critical tasks.

The Go Negosyo founder, however, reminded that there is still the matter of allowing second booster vaccinations for those who are 50 to 59 years old.

Concepcion has been appealing to the HTAC to expand the coverage of second boosters to this age group as they are mostly still productive members of the workforce. Only health care workers, the elderly and immunocompromised are currently allowed to receive second boosters.

Next health chief

Duque yesterday said he is in favor if a colleague in the pandemic response team would become his successor at the Department of Health (DOH).

“I think it will be good for the next administration of president-elect Bongbong Marcos to choose someone, in my humble manifestation, who already knows what to do. In my opinion, it would be good if it is someone who played a key role in the current pandemic response,” said Duque.

Otherwise, Duque said, the gains of the Duterte administration in the fight against COVID-19 could be put to waste. He added many are qualified to be the next health chief, but “let us leave it to the next administration to choose who they think would be the most effective as health secretary.”


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