COVID-19 vaccines arriving before yearend may cover minors — Duque
MANILA, Philippines — The COVID-19 vaccine doses arriving before yearend may already cover the inoculation of minors, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said Thursday.
During a budget hearing at the House committee on appropriations, Duque said the Department of Finance has reported to the Office of the President that a total of 125 million vaccine doses are expected to be delivered to the country until December.
He noted that “excess doses” from the expected deliveries “will be sufficient to cover those not belonging to the herd immunity population.”
“We will be able to go beyond the 77 million Filipinos to reach herd immunity. Having said that, we are confident that we will be able to provide vaccines, and as committed by our vaccine czar Sec. [Carlito] Galvez that this can already include inoculation of children. But exactly what will be the age threshold is being determined as of yet,” said the Health Chief.
“The Vaccine Experts Panel and the All Experts Group are working on this double time, and hopefully next week they will be able to give us the technical report that will (determine) a policy amendment, which means we can start inoculating children,” he added.
So far, only US brand Pfizer has been granted authorization in the Philippines to be used for minors, particularly those aged 12 to 15. China’s Sinovac Biotech has also sought permission from government authorities for its vaccine to be used for children aged 3 to 17.
The country has so far administered 34 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje said during the hearing. She said 20 million doses have been provided as first jabs. Meanwhile, 14 million are now fully vaccinated.
“We have a total inventory of 51.9 million doses, [of which] 34.9 million are the procured vaccines and the remaining 16.9 million are donated vaccines from Covax and other countries,” she told the committee.
She also said that 34 million vaccine doses were procured through the P54 billion already disbursed for vaccine purchase of the country’s vaccine stockpile.
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