Further research is needed to ascertain if COVID-19 vaccines are safe for individuals below 16 years old, the World Health Organization (WHO) country representative Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe said on Monday.
"There will be further research happening in the future when it would be clear whether children should be vaccinated or not. But at this point we are not beyond that," Abeyasinghe told lawmakers in a Senate hearing.
The vaccines for the novel disease have not been tried out among children for two reasons, according to the WHO representative: The relatively low incidence of COVID-19 among children, and the preference of vaccine manufacturers to ensure safety of their product in adults first before administering it to younger age groups.
Abeyasinghe mentioned this after Senator Cynthia Villar cited the case in Japan, where young people below 16 years old were reportedly excluded from COVID-19 vaccination as it has not been proven yet if the vaccines for the novel disease are safe for the younger age groups.
"I look at the statistics, 35% [of the Philippine population] are below 16 years old... So, talagang 60% lang talaga ang set ng iba-vaccinate [sa Pilipinas]," Villar said.
According to vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr., the Philippines targets to vaccinate 50 to 70 million individuals out of its 110 million population within the year. — RSJ, GMA News