The country needs to vaccinate 20 million individuals from the adolescent and pediatric groups if it wants to upgrade its herd immunity targets.
“If we want upgrade herd immunity by scale to 80-90 (percent), we need to vaccinate 20 million from the adolescent and pediatric,” vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said, during a ceremony to welcome the arrival of 2 million doses of the Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine at the airport Monday.
Galvez, however, said the vaccination of those 18 years old and above must be completed first as recommended by the Philippine Medical Association and its Pediatrics Society head in a meeting last Sunday.
“Their recommendation is to vaccinate first the 18 years old and above and once this is completed, we can proceed to the 17 years old and below,” he said.
Galvez, chief implementor of the task force against COVID-19, said expanding the country’s vaccine coverage will help counter the threats posed by the fast-spreading Delta variant.
The government earlier planned to inoculate 70 percent of the country’s adult population.
While no date has been set yet for the vaccination of the individuals from the adolescent and pediatric groups, Galvez said dependents of health care workers (A-1) and those with comorbidities (A-2) will be prioritized once it starts.
Galvez said 56.7 million of assorted Covid-19 vaccines have been delivered so far in the country as he lauded Sinovac and China for their “very steady deliveries” of the life-saving jabs.
He said the new shipment of 2 million Sinovac vaccines is part of the 12 million doses ordered for September that was negotiated and procured from the Chinese vaccine manufacturer.
Most of the Chinese-made vaccines delivered Monday will be deployed to Regions 3 (Central Luzon), 4-A Calabarzon, 6 (Western Visayas), 9 (Zamboanga Peninsula), 11 (Davao), and other “surge areas” along with 151 highly urbanized cities. (See full story on manilastandard.net)
Another 10 million Sinovac doses are expected to be delivered by October, Galvez said.
“And then later, we will have (more) deliveries of more Pfizer, AstraZeneca and also Moderna,” he added.
He said 5.5 million doses of Pfizer vaccine are expected to be delivered through COVAX Facility during the latter part of September.
The Philippine Pediatric Society (PPS) and the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines (PIDSP) said they urged the government to vaccinate a “sufficient percentage” of the adult population, before moving to minors.
The groups said deciding to include minors in the vaccination rollout should be done in a broader context and should take into consideration the vaccine supply and groups with comorbidities.
“The adult and more vulnerable age groups should still be prioritized in the vaccination rollout, with the aim of equitable distribution among different regions of the country,” the groups said in a statement.
“Once the whole country has a sufficient percentage vaccinated in the priority adult groups, children 12 years old and above may be considered for vaccination,” they added.
The groups noted that the vaccine rollout can be started in high-transmission areas with adolescents under the A3 or those with comorbidities and A1 category or children of frontliners prioritized.
Earlier this month, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) amended the emergency use authorization (EUA) of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine to include adolescents aged 12 to 17.
The Department of Health (DOH) has yet to issue a recommendation to have children vaccinated against COVID-19, but local government units such as Quezon City have already requested the national government to include minors.
The Philippines has administered 38,746,501 doses of COVID-19 vaccines nationwide as of Sept. 12, the National Task Force Against Covid-19 (NTF) reported Monday.
The NTF vaccination dashboard data showed 21,951,956 have received the first shot while 16,794,545 have completed two doses.
The average daily jabs administered in the last seven days stood at 415,362 doses.
On Sunday, a military official offered COVID-19 vaccination to communist rebels who would return to the government fold, after swab tests on some captured and slain New People Army combatants yielded positive results.
Maj. Gen. Romeo S. Brawner Jr., commander of Army’s 4th Infantry Division, said three of the 10 CPP-NPA rebels, including one minor, captured in the Sept. 8 clash in the San Fernando, Bukidnon were positive for COVID-19.
Another NPA rebel who was killed in an encounter in Talakag, Bukidnon on Sept. 9 also turned out positive of COVID-19.