Experts weigh in on vaccinating children against COVID-19


Published September 21, 2021 5:51pm

Experts on Tuesday weighed in on the possibility of expanding the COVID-19 vaccination program to include children.

Experts on Tuesday weighed in on the possibility of expanding the COVID-19 vaccination program to include children.

At a Palace press conference, infectious disease expert Dr. Edsel Salvana said it would be better to follow the government’s prioritization framework until the country’s vaccine supply improves.

The priority groups include healthcare workers (A1), senior citizens (A2), persons with comorbidities (A3), frontline personnel in essential sectors (A4), and indigents (A5).

“I think at this point, it’s important to stick to our prioritization program since we know that those under A1, A2, A3 are at the highest risk of dying, followed by the population ages 20 to 59 years old whose baseline risk of dying from COVID can be as high as 1%. If we vaccinate them, it goes down to .1%,” Salvana said in a mix of English and Filipino.

“Children who are 20 years old and below have a baseline risk of dying of about .1%. Even if we want to get down to .01%, it’s more important to target those who are at higher risk of dying. Once our supply is okay, then we should vaccinate everyone.”

Molecular biologist Fr. Nicanor Austriaco said there is “no immediate need” to vaccinate minors.

“But personally, if you ask me as a molecular biologist, if given the risk is already so low for a young child, if we had the option of an mRNA vaccine or an attenuated vaccine, I would err on the attenuated vaccine to lower that point one to even lower and minimize any risk long-term for the development of our children,” said Austriaco, a member of independent expert group OCTA Research.

The Department of Health (DOH) and experts have yet to issue a recommendation to have children vaccinated against COVID-19.

The Philippines earlier this month approved the amendment in the emergency use authorization (EUA) for Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine to include its use on adolescents aged 12 to 17 years old.

In June, the FDA expanded the EUA for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to cover those aged 12 to 15 years old. Initially, the Pfizer jab was only approved for use on individuals aged 16 and above.

The FDA earlier said the country would have to vaccinate an additional 12 to 14 million people if the government allows the vaccination of children aged 17 and below. — DVM, GMA News


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