Vaxxing minors: DOH doing survey; Galvez pushes October start
Amid growing concerns from anxious parents, the Department of Health (DOH) on Thursday said experts were still deliberating on the proposal to allow COVID-19 vaccination for minors.
Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., chief implementer of the country’s pandemic plan, has proposed the inoculation of 12 to 17 year olds in October, citing improving vaccine supply as well as parents’ concerns.
“We are still carefully deliberating our final recommendations [but] we support providing children aged 12 to 17 with additional protection, provided that their safety is ensured and that there is adequate and stable supply of vaccines,” the DOH said in a statement.
At present, the agency said, vaccinating the most vulnerable members of the population, including senior citizens and persons with comorbidities, remains as the main priority.
“While children are not yet being vaccinated, we encourage those eligible to get vaccinated to achieve the “cocoon effect” so they can be protected as well,” it added.
Still, the DOH recently launched a survey on adolescent vaccination to determine the “perception, willingness, and factors affecting the will of getting vaccinated among adolescents and their parents.”
“The results of the survey will also be used for the deliberations of vaccine experts in the concurrence of their recommendation on pediatric vaccination,” it said.
Top 3 reasons
In the survey, the DOH asks parents of adolescents to choose from a list of answers their top three reasons for wanting to have their children vaccinated.
The choices, as worded in the survey, are as follows: Wanting children to be able to go back to school and resume physical classes; seeing COVID-19 as a risk to their child; upon encouragement from their health-care provider; positive experience with previous vaccinations of their child; upon recommendation of teachers and school officials; and trust in clinical studies on the vaccine.
The DOH survey also includes an option that says that the parent is willing to have their child vaccinated, but he or she does not know yet how or where to register.
20M doses coming
Galvez said the government needs to open up COVID-19 vaccination to other sectors so that the country could promptly use the doses being delivered.
The average number of doses administered daily is 400,000 to 500,000, and this needs to reach 800,000 per day, said Galvez.
“We are proposing, Mr. President, to open up the vaccination for children by mid of October because by mid of October, we will receive an additional 20 million [doses] plus the 23 million [in stock]. We could easily vaccinate 12 million children aged 12 to 17,” Galvez said in a meeting in Malacañang on Wednesday.
But he also recommended that the government vaccinate first the minors with comorbidities and the children of health-care workers.
Explaining his proposal, he said parents are worried about their children and some are even considering flying to other countries to have them inoculated against COVID-19.
He said parents have been calling him up to relay their concerns, including one whose 19-year-old child died of the disease.
The Makati Business Club also urged him to open up the vaccination to more sectors, he said.
So far, only the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines have emergency use authorization to be administered to minors as young as 12 years old.
Galvez also said the government would concentrate on vaccinating teachers and school personnel now that a limited number of schools would be allowed to hold in-person classes.
Galvez also said the COVID-19 vaccination could be open to the general public by November or even earlier. —With a report from Maricar Cinco
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