The country is set to vaccinate immunocompromised minors aged 12 to 17 years old starting Friday, October 15.

According to the Department of Health (DOH), adolescents with comorbidities will now be included in the government’s A3 priority group for persons with comorbidities.

According to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, vaccination for minors in the A3 category will be done in two phases: the first phase for those aged 15 to 17, followed by a second for those aged 12 to 14.

Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that the DOH, in consultation with the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society, has identified pre-existing conditions that would fall under the priority group. These include:

  • Medical complexity
  • Genetic conditions
  • Neurologic conditions
  • Metabolic/ endocrine
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Obesity
  • HIV infection
  • Tuberculosis
  • Chronic respiratory disease
  • Renal disorders
  • Hepatobiliary

Recipients of the vaccines and their parents or guardians must sign an informed consent form and present a medical certificate as proof of comorbidity.

Vaccinations will first be done in select government hospitals to closely monitor possible adverse reactions to the vaccine before extending the pediatric vaccination to other jab sites. 

“Para sa ganoon, kung magkaroon man ng mga adverse event following immunization ay at least nasa loob na po ng hospital at mabilis na matugunan kung magkaroon man ng emergency,” Duque said.

Participating hospitals include the Philippine Children’s Medical Center, National Children’s Hospital, Philippine Heart Center, Pasig City Children’s Hospital, Fe Del Mundo Medical Center, and the Philippine General Hospital.

“Eventually, 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.

After a 2-week test run in the hospitals, pediatric vaccinations will expand to other local government units (LGU) within Metro Manila for another two weeks, according to vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr.

After a month of test runs in Metro Manila, the DOH hopes to further expand the service to LGUs outside the national capital, especially in areas where at least 50% of senior citizens have already been vaccinated.

Vaccine pre-registration for minors with comorbidities will follow the same pre-registration procedures of their respective LGUs.

At present, only Pfizer and Moderna have secured the Philippine Food and Drug Administration’s authorization for emergency use in of their COVID-19 vaccines for minors aged 12 to 17 years old.

The country recently received more than 2.7 million COVID-19 vaccines from the COVAX global vaccine-sharing facility. 

Galvez says that the new vaccines can cover the upcoming pilot vaccination for minors. This comes amid multiple calls to reopen schools after two academic years spent in remote learning.

The Philippines is one of the last countries without face-to-face classes since the pandemic began over a year ago. DZUP

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