MANILA—Vaccine czar, Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., on Monday said the Philippines needs to procure more coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccines particularly if the country would include the inoculation of minors and children.
Galvez, also the chief implementer of the National Task Force (NTF) against Covid-19, said the government is currently in talks with various pharmaceutical companies to increase the country’s procured vaccines from 158 million to 202 million doses, including the jabs from the World Health Organization (WHO)-led COVAX facility.
“So ang implication na kapag magkaroon tayo ng opening ng (the implication if we will have the opening of) pediatric vaccination is it will increase our demand for vaccines,” Galvez said in a press briefing with Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque after the symbolic vaccination of essential workers under A4 category in Pasay City.
He said the country needs to procure more Covid-19 jabs for the inoculation of children.
China’s Sinovac company said its Covid-19 vaccine is safe for children ages 3 to 17 years old based on preliminary data which was submitted to the Chinese drug regulations.
“Recently mayroong announcement ang Sinovac (the Sinovac made an announcement) that they are now authorizing in China iyong (the vaccination of) 2 years and 17 years old,” Galvez said.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is also cleared for use in children starting at age 15 and is being studied in ages 12-16.
The Sinopharm company is studying the effectiveness of its coronavirus jabs in children.
The Moderna pharmaceutical firm is likewise studying to use its vaccine for children aged 12 and older and announced last week a new study testing its jab to children younger than 12.
“So ang nakikita namin dito, mayroon tayong tinatawag na pediatric vaccination, may 39 million po tayo na population diyan (We see that we have about 39 million population for the pediatric vaccination),” Galvez said. “We need to buy more vaccines, more or less 60 million.”
Health Secretary Francisco Duque, for his part, said the government will strictly follow the prioritization list for the Covid-19 vaccination program set by the World Health Organization.
“We welcome this news of China’s Sinovac, expanding the indication for the Sinovac vaccines to include 12 to 15 years of age,” Duque said.
Duque, however, said the prioritization framework in the vaccination rollout will remain.
“We will still follow the prioritization framework and once the vaccines arrived and are sufficient to cover even this age group which the Sinovac has included as among the indications from 12 to 15. Pfizer is doing from 12 to 17. So all of these are a welcome development. Basta iyong prioritization sunod pa rin tayo (We will still adhere to the prioritization),” he added. (PNA)