Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 27) Adolescents and young teens will not yet be a part of the Philippines’ COVID-19 vaccination drive for now, according to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, even as the country’s FDA is close to allowing the use of Pfizers vaccine for persons aged 12 to 15 years old.
Duque said on Thursday that the vaccination of the younger population is not the government’s priority as there are more vulnerable groups that need to be protected from the coronavirus, especially at a time when vaccine supply remains scarce.
“Dahil kulang pa ang bakuna at hindi naman sila kabilang sa high-risk group, hindi muna natin sila pwede isama sa ngayon dahil kulang na nga tayo. Dapat ay talagang itulak natin ang mabilisang bakunahan para sa mga senior citizens, A2 at A3 (people with co-morbidities),” he said in a media briefing.
[Translation: Since we are still short on vaccines and they are not part of the high-risk group, we cannot include them yet. We should really push for the immediate vaccination of senior citizens and people with comorbidities.]
Duque said he supports plans to inoculate those aged 12-15, but the government cannot stray from its prioritization plan if it hopes to reach its vaccination target this year.
The Duterte administration is lowering its initial goal of inoculating 70% of the population or 70 million Filipinos by year-end to achieve herd immunity. It will be brought down to 50% to 60%, focusing on providing Metro Manila residents with immediate protection.
Food and Drug Administration Director General Eric Domingo on Wednesday said he will issue within the week an amendment to the emergency use authorization granted to Pfizer back in January to allow the use of its vaccine on individuals aged 12-15. He said local experts studying the application lodged in May 20 so far had favorable recommendations.
The development comes after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration earlier this month also expanded its EUA for Pfizers vaccine to include those aged 12 to 15 years old in America.
Here in the Philippines, Pfizers vaccine is currently only allowed for use for people aged 16 and up.
The country has so far administered 3.46 million first doses, while 1,029,061 people have completed their COVID-19 shots.

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