by: Vean Cordero || Photo credit: CNN Philippines
The vaccination rollout for children ages 5 to 11, originally scheduled to begin on February 4, 2022 — as announced by Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire in a press briefing last January 25 — was postponed to Monday, February 7.
The Department of Health (DOH) announced on February 3 that logistical challenges prompted them to change the schedule.
As of January 29, the DOH has reported that over 168,355 children aged 5 to 11 are registered for the vaccination. They will be immunized with the Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine, as it is currently the only COVID-19 vaccine approved for emergency use for children aged 5 to 11 by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). FDA director-general Eric Domingo emphasized during the Laging Handa Briefing that it has a 90.7 percent efficacy for the given age group, adding that the adverse symptoms shown during clinical trials were mild.
Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., chief implementer of the National Task Force Against COVID-19 (NTF), has said that Pfizer’s vaccine has “a lower formulation appropriate for children,” assuring parents of its safety, further stating that the government aims to vaccinate 14.7 million children within the said age group.
The Pfizer vaccine for children aged 5 to 11 has a lower dosage and concentration than those administered for youth aged 12 to 17. Because of this, it was ordered and procured separately, with the first shipment of the Pfizer vaccine containing 780,000 doses. It was expected to arrive last January 31; however, the DOH announced on February 3 that its arrival would be delayed until the evening of February 4.
A statement from the DOH, given last February 3, expressed that, “To ensure the adequate preparation and distribution of the Pfizer vaccines, the COVID-19 vaccination of 5-11 year old will begin on February 7 (Monday).”
The rollout will be held in at least 32 sites around Metro Manila, including the Philippine Children’s Medical Center, Philippine Heart Center, National Children’s Hospital, Manila Zoo, SM North Edsa (Skydome), and FilOil Gym (San Juan City). Vaccination sites in other regions will also be expected to open a week after the initial rollout.
The Department of Education welcomes the vaccination of children as it plans to eventually transition to limited in-person classes by School Year 2022-2023. Moreover, Education Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan stated that the planned vaccination would help build confidence among parents to allow their children to participate in in-person classes.