The vaccination against COVID-19 of children aged 5 to 11 years old is set to start on February 1 initially in the National Capital Region, National Task Force Against COVID-19 medical adviser Dr. Ted Herbosa said Tuesday.
At the Laging Handa public briefing, Herbosa said the first batch of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine with the formulation for the age group will arrive in the country on January 31.
“Mag-uumpisa tayo sa NCR starting February 1, ang unang linggo ng February 1. Darating dito ng January 31 ang unang delivery ng 50 million doses na ating in-order,” he said.
(We will start in the NCR starting February 1, the first week of February 1. The first delivery of the 50 million doses that we ordered will arrive here on January 31.)
According to Herbosa, around 780,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine for children will arrive on January 31 and will be followed by more deliveries in the following days.
Herbosa said the government is set to expand nationwide the vaccination of 5 to 11 years old in the middle of February.
Around 7 million children are under this age group, according to him.
Nothing to fear
Meanwhile, vaccine expert Dr. Lulu Bravo said parents and guardians have nothing to fear when it comes to giving COVID-19 vaccination to kids aged 5 to 11 years.
Bravo, a pediatrician and executive director of Philippine Foundation for Vaccination, noted that the vaccination of children in the Philippines has started way back in 1974 and has since proven to be effective.
"We have been vaccinating children for 45 years. The first mass immunization of children happened in 1974 and since then, a lot of children were vaccinated and were saved against measles, diphtheria, polio, meningitis, among others," Bravo said during a Palace briefing.
"We saved children because of the vaccines. Kaya hindi natin kailangan matakot na ang mga bata ay babakunahan kasi 50 taon na binabakunahan ang mga bata at marami pong pag-aaral sa bakuna," she added.
(So we have nothing to fear in vaccinating children because we have been doing it for the last 50 years and have long studied the vaccines.)
The government is eyeing to vaccinate those aged 5 to 11 years old against COVID-19 by February 4.
The government has already imposed restrictions on those unvaccinated against COVID-19, banning them from public places and even in public transport unless the trip is for an essential activity.
Bravo said such restriction is necessary for the common good.
"With restrictions, we save millions of lives at a time," Bravo said.
"If we won't have vaccine mandates and allow the vaccinated to mingle with the unvaccinated, this will greatly affect public health and we could have an outbreak," she added.
For her part, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said children may acquire COVID-19 that may result in hospitalization or admissions.
“Bagamat lumalabas na less severe and COVID-19 cases sa pediatric age, maaari pa rin silang tamaan ng COVID-19 na maaaring magresulta sa hospitalization or admissions sa intensive care units,” Vergeire said at a media briefing.
(Even if it seems that cases are less severe for the pediatric age, they may still acquire the illness, which may result in hospitalization or admissions in the ICU.)
According to Vergeire, the risk of children with comorbidities acquiring severe COVID-19 and needing intensive care is higher by 1.8 times.
“Habang 2.8 naman na kinakakitaan na maaaring maging sanhi ng pagkamatay sa COVID-19,” Vergeire said.
She also said the caps of the Pfizer bottles for the 12 to 17 age group and the 5 to 11 age group are different.
“Para siguradong tama ang bakunang itinuturok, magkaibang kulay po ang takip sa mga botilya ng bakuna (to ensure that you are using the right vaccine, the caps have different colors),” she said.
Vergeire said the public may register through local government units or vaccination centers.
They must also bring documents showing the relationship between parent and child, such as birth certificate and baptismal certificate, and valid IDs with a picture for the child and the parents. — KBK/RSJ, GMA News