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Philippines starts vaccinating kids aged 5-11 vs. COVID-19

The pilot rollout of COVID-19 vaccination for five to 11 years old in the country started in the National Capital Region on Monday.

Malacañang earlier announced the vaccination of the five to 11 age group will be rolled out in the following sites in Metro Manila:

  • Philippine Heart Center
  • Philippine Children’s Medical Center (PCMC)
  • National Children’s Hospital NCH)
  • Manila Zoo
  • SM North Edsa (Skydome)
  • Fil Oil Gym in San Juan City

The national rollout will be on February 14, the National Vaccination Operations Center said Saturday.

NVOC co-lead Dr. Kezia Lorraine Rosario said about 500,000 children had been registered for the vaccination rollout, mostly from the urban areas.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III led the pilot rollout of the vaccination in PCMC where about 85 children were scheduled to be vaccinated on Monday.

“Nananawagan ako sa mga magulang na pagka-natapos nang mabakunahan ang inyong mga anak, ‘wag kakalimutan na after three weeks or 21 days, balik na for the second jab,” he reminded the parents or guardians of the children.

(I am asking the parents that after your children get vaccinated, bring them back after three weeks or 21 days for the second jab.)

Duque also asked the parents to help the government spread awareness about the pediatric vaccination and encourage other parents who are hesitant to get their kids vaccinated against COVID-19.

Meanwhile, in the NCH, the vaccination drive was led by National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 Chief Implementer and vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., along with NTF medical adviser Dr. Ted Herbosa and US Embassy Chargé d'affaires Heather Variava.

At the Philippine Heart Center (PHC), about 50 children aged 5 to 11 were already vaccinated as of 9:54 a.m.

In Taguig City, Mayor Lino Cayetano said more than 9,000 minors have already pre-registered for the vaccination through the city's TRACE.

Cayetano said the inoculation is part of the city's preparation in the opening of face-to-face classes.

“Here in Taguig, we strongly believe that vaccination is our strongest weapon to fight the virus. It is duly time to start the vaccination of our minors as this is important as we gradually open the schools for the face-to-face classes. We want to give our children the best education and we have to protect them to be able to do this,” Cayetano said in statement.

The city government added new vaccination sites at the SM Aura SMX Convention Center and Lakeshore Vaccination Hub, which specifically turned into a children's party-like venue.

The children are greeted by cosplayers and delighted with different attractions like a puppet show and a simple token was also given to them.

On Friday night, around 780,000 doses of Pfizer anti-COVID vaccine for minors aged five to 11 arrived in the Philippines, which are the first batch of supply for the age group in the country.

Around 7 million children are under the 5-11 age group. Of this number, Duque said the government is targeting to vaccinate 1.7 million.

Duque noted that about 8.2 million children aged 12 to 17 were already fully inoculated against COVID-19.

Petition vs. pediatric vaccination

In a television interview, presidential adviser for COVID-19 response Vince Dizon said the Duterte administration is confident that the courts will allow the COVID-19 vaccination on children aged five to 11 to continue.

This was in connection with the petition filed by Dominic Almelor and Girlie Samonte before the Quezon City Regional Trial Court seeking the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the rollout of the pediatric vaccination for the five to 11 age group.

The petitioners were represented by the Public Attorney's Office (PAO) headed by its chief Persida Acosta, who is not yet vaccinated against COVID-19.

"We believe in the legal process, and this [COVID-19 vaccination on children] is very important to the government because our children need to be protected. Especially since we have seen in past surges that the children [under this age group] were infected with COVID-19," Dizon said in a CNN Philippines interview.

"And without the vaccination, it will also be very difficult for the children to go out for face-to-face classes and spending time with family, and that is hard on them and their parents to leave the kids at home. We will answer the petition and we are confident that the courts will allow the vaccination to continue," he added.

He urged the parents and guardians of the children to heed the advice of the Philippine Pediatric Society which backed the COVID-19 vaccination of children aged five to 11.

"It is very, very clear that they fully support the COVID-19 vaccination of children aged 5 to 11. They are a group of experts who adhere that these vaccines are safe and effective," Dizon said.

"If they are still thinking twice, they can ask their children's pediatricians themselves," he added.

Adverse reactions

In a Balitanghali interview, Philippine Pediatric Society (PPS) spokesperson Dr. Carmela Kasala said they have yet to receive reports on adverse reactions to kids of the COVID-19 jab.

“Sa mga adverse reactions naman, halos wala ngang nangyayari. Mga adverse reactions o kamatayan, siyempre, ‘yan ang hinihintay nating tignan kung meron bang mga ganong mga detalye. Pero so far, wala pa naman,” she said.

(Regarding adverse reactions, almost nothing has been reported so far. We are of course monitoring if there are such details about these adverse reactions or even death, but so far, there’s none.)

Kasala said that should there be reports of adverse events after the pediatric inoculation, these would be investigated first by health experts as these may be coincidences only.  — with Anna Felicia Bajo/AOL/KBK/RSJ, GMA News