We join the hopeful segment of the population that local authorities would soon be able to complete the necessary assessments and safety protocols for the inoculation of children aged 5 to 11.
Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., the chief implementer of the National Task Force against COVID-19 said this week: “(The) 5 to 11 age bracket, most likely, it takes time for the assessment and also we will also look at the experience in the United States. Once Pfizer submits the dossier for its approval here, I believe it will take only take a few weeks before the (Philippines) FDA (Food and Drug Administration) can announce its decision.
“More or less, they might approve it by December,” He was talking to reporters shortly after the arrival of 2,098,980 doses of Pfizer vaccine donated by the US, through the COVAX Facility at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2 on Sunday night.
He said this after the US FDA approved the emergency use of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5 to 11 — the first vaccine brand to get such approval for younger children in the United States.
Once approved, Galvez said they would follow the same procedure observed in inoculating minors aged 12 to 17.
“We will use same protocol since it gives us a leeway to see for ourselves how we can inoculate it based on sequential manner but now what we have seen in our rollout and we are very happy with the result considering that the result we have accelerated the start of inoculation of (minors) set on November 3 nationwide and the full-scale vaccination is on November 5,” said Galvez, who also thanked the US government for its latest donation.
“I would like to thank the COVAX Facility, WHO (World Health Organization), and the US government for giving us this another batch of 2.98 million vaccines doses that will benefit more than 1 million people. We would like also to announce that the COVAX will donate more vaccines and we will announce it in proper time but it is a very sizeable amount. We also thank Pfizer and the other manufacturers for providing us the access to the vaccines,” he added.
Heather Variava, US Embassy Manila Chargé d’Affaires, said the donation could help the Philippines quickly recover from the pandemic.
“This brings to more than 20 million the vaccine doses donated by the United States thru COVAX to the Philippines while the total number of the COVAX facility-donated vaccine doses to the Philippines is now about 28 million. I only want to encourage the people of the Philippines to get vaccinated. This way, our economy, and schools will back to normal,” Variava told reporters.
Based on the National COVID-19 Vaccination Dashboard, the Philippines has already administered 59,134,236 doses nationwide.
Of the total, 31,862,067 doses were given as first shots and 27,272,169 were used as second doses.
Asked if the Philippines could meet its target of full vaccination of 70 percent of the target population by year-end, Galvez said, “We will try to have that target but for now, realistically, we can have more or less 50 to 60 percent.”
Galvez also urged local government units to double their efforts in vaccinating their constituents.
In related developments, the Philippines has now 106, 212, 460 doses of COVID-19 vaccines following the arrival of more than two million doses of Pfizer donated by the United States government.
Galvez is hoping the country will be able to increase its daily jab rate to 1 to 1.5 million doses, noting that the nationwide vaccination for children aged 12 to 17 will start Nov. 3.
Behzad Noubary, UNICEF Deputy Representative, congratulated the Philippine government for achieving its goal of receiving over 100 million COVID-19 vaccine doses by October.
The Bureau of Customs on Monday reported it had cleared over 106 million doses of coronavirus disease 2019 vaccines that arrived in the country since the arrival of the first shipment of jabs in February.
The bureau said the running total number of vaccine doses in the country was now at 106,245,420.
These include 3,507,800 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine and 4,049,370 Pfizer jabs that arrived from October 28 to 31.
To date, a total of eight vaccine brands are being used in the inoculation program of the government — Sinovac, AstraZeneca, Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, Sputnik V, Hayat-Vax, and Sinopharm.
The first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines in the country contained 600,000 doses of Sinovac which was donated by the Chinese government.
The clearance of the vaccine shipments was processed and released through the advance clearance process while underguarding duties were also handled by BOC’s CoVax Special Handling Task Force composed of the security and operations unit of the bureau.
We have our fingers crossed.