Vaccinations for minors aged 12-17 to start with those with comorbidities on October 15

The Department of Health (DOH) said on Wednesday, September 29, that COVID-19 vaccinations among minors aged 12 to 17 will begin with children who have underlying medical conditions. 

Minors belonging to this group will be considered as part of the government’s A3 category or persons with comorbidities, while others will become eligible to get vaccinated “once adequate coverage of the A2 priority group or senior citizens has been achieved nationwide and vaccine supply becomes sufficient to include children.”

In Malacañang’s regular Laging Handa briefing, DOH Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje said that the rollout of vaccines to minors with comorbidities may start as early as October 15 and could begin with a pilot run in Metro Manila. 

In a statement Thursday night, September 30, the goverment's coronavirus task force affirmed the start of vaccinations among adolescents with comorbodities on October 15.

"The pilot will begin on October 15, 2021 under a phased approach as may be determined by the National Vaccination Operations Center," it said.

After a possible two-week test run, vaccination of adolescents who are part of the A3 category could be expanded to other regions, Cabotaje said. 

In a separate briefing on Wednesday, DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire explained that the staggered rollout of vaccines among kids was needed to manage both risks for children with comorbidities and supply of available doses which remain limited in the country. 

Cabotaje said the DOH was considering having minors in the A3 category vaccinated in hospitals to better monitor and manage possible reactions more closely. 

Finalized and detailed guidelines on the vaccination of minors are expected to be released next week. In the meantime, the DOH said the following general requirements and processes could be expected: 

  • Informed consent of parents, as well as assent from children who will receive vaccines themselves
  • Medical certificate from doctors indicating comorbidities of minor
  • In far-flung or Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas (GIDAS), clearance from on-site trained physicians guided by a checklist from the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines to be provided.

“As we get more local experience, we will be able to retool our current vaccinators on the additional precautionary steps on screening and vaccine administration,” Vergeire said. 

Currently, the Philippines has cleared both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for emergency use among minors as young as 12. 

While vaccination of younger groups is expected to begin, the DOH continued to urge all eligible adults to get vaccinated to provide added protection for children who have yet to get jabs.

But while vaccination will soon open to younger individuals, Vergeire stressed that vaccination coverage should still increase among other priority groups like the elderly or those over 60. 

Figures from the DOH accessed on Wednesday showed that of the some 8 million senior citizens targeted in the government’s vaccine drive, only some 4.3 million have been fully vaccinated. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.

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