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Philippines to inoculate 12.7M minors, to start vaccinating those with comorbidities

The Philippines will be vaccinating 12.7 million minors aged 12 to 17 years old against COVID-19 but will start first with children who have underlying health diseases, a Department of Health official said on Sunday.

On Dobol B TV, Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje said the national government will prioritize 10% of the total minors nationwide for the next two to three months while they monitor the adverse effects of the vaccines.

"We will make it a phase approach. We will start with those with comorbidity," she said.

After vaccinating children with comorbidities and those who have access or staying in hospitals in Metro Manila, the government will inoculate children nationwide, Cabotaje said.

She further pointed out that the National Children's Hospital and Philippine Heart Center in Quezon City as well as Philippine General Hospital in Manila have announced that they will help in vaccination of children.

President Rodrigo Duterte last week bared that the government will start the COVID-19 immunization program for children and the general population. 

Asked about possible side effects of vaccines for children, Cabotaje said these include anaphylaxis, myocarditis, headache, body ache, and allergies, among others.  The United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention defined myocarditis as an inflammation of the heart muscle.

"Generally hindi naman ganoon karami ang side effects. Hindi naman ganoon ka-severe (Side effects are not that many. They are also not that severe)," she said.

On treating children with side effects from vaccines, Cabotaje told parents: "May mga guidelines kung saan kayo pupunta at kung ano gagawin (We have guidelines on where they can treat their children)."

So far, the Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given an  emergency use authorization to Moderna and Pfizer vaccines for use on those aged 12 to 17 years old.

Over 20 million Filipinos were vaccinated against COVID-19, latest government figures showed. —KG, GMA News