In this file photo from UNICEF, Gennie Oliva holds her child Kivet while a health worker vaccinates the child against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) at the Lower Bicutan Health Centre in Taguig City. (Photo: UNICEF/Shehzad Noorani)
MANILA — In recognizing the importance of giving protection not only to the elderly but also to our youth, former Task Force Covid Shield commander and senatorial aspirant Guillermo Lorenzo Eleazar backed the stand of health experts in prioritizing the safety of children over Covid-19 vaccines’ efficacy before it could be approved for use.
The former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief’s pronouncement came in the wake of the advisory issued by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) director-general Eric Domingo that noted the significance of prioritizing safety over efficacy in the vaccination of children even as the country nears its goal of inoculating at least 80 percent of the populace to achieve herd immunity.
“Our primary concern, especially with the children getting younger and smaller, is safety. Before the efficacy, our experts are looking into safety first,” Domingo had said during the Laging Handa briefing in reference to Pfizer’s application for emergency use authorization (EUA of its Covid-19 vaccine for children aged five to 11.
“So far, clinical trial data shows that we do not have very unusual or what we call signals of very severe adverse events. Most of those observed during trials is mild, similar to those observed in other vaccines for children,” he added.
The FDA chief gave assurances that should the Pfizer vaccine be approved for children below 12 years old, the government will continue to monitor the minors who received a vaccine.
“We will see during the evaluation and of course, should we roll out the vaccines, we will continuously monitor them. Because under their EUA, strict monitoring is included to make sure that if there is something unusual, the same could be promptly addressed,” he stressed.
Citing data, Domingo said that the Pfizer vaccine has a 90.7 percent efficacy rate for children in the five to 11 age bracket.
In reaction, Eleazar said that we cannot make assumptions or fast-track vaccination for children because this must be backed by clinical data that would ensure the safety of our youth.
“Hindi tayo puwedeng magpadalus-dalos. Kailangan nating matiyak na magiging ligtas ang ating kabataan at mabibigyan sila ng tunay na proteksyon laban sa Covid-19 dahil kapag nagmadali tayo nang wala pang approval ang bakuna para sa mga bata mula sa FDA, baka lalo pang ikasama ito para sa ating mga anak,” he ended saying. (ai/mtvn)