The Philippines on Monday, February 7, started vaccinating children five to 11 years old against COVID-19 in the national capital.
The rollout of the vaccination drive in the provinces will start on February 14. The National Vaccination Operations Center said about 500,000 children have already registered for the vaccination rollout.
On Monday, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III reminded parents to bring back the children to get vaccinated with the second dose after three weeks or 21 days.
There are about seven million children under the 5-11 age group in the country who are qualified to be vaccinated but Duque said the government is only targeting 1.7 million.
The vaccination drive for children pushed through despite a petition filed before the Quezon City Regional Trial Court seeking the issuance of a temporary restraining order against the rollout.
The Philippine News Agency, meanwhile, reported that about 1,080,597 children with ages between 5 to 11 years old in the Western Visayas region have been targeted for the pediatric vaccination.
Dr. Renilyn Reyes, head of the Public Health Program Development Cluster of the Department of Health in Western Visayas, said that vaccines provide an additional safeguard for gatherings and safe reopening of schools and build “cocoon protection” for those who cannot be vaccinated.
“The rollout would be gradual, just like our adult and 12 to 17 years old. It would be fun and challenging because these are kids,” she said.
Reyes said vaccination sites could adopt their own strategy to make their center conducive to children. Preferably, she said that it would be better if they could not see when the inoculation is being administered to other kids so they won’t be able to see their reaction.
Parents are also advised to talk with their kids ahead of their vaccination schedule so they won’t get afraid on the day of the inoculation.
“Vaccination sites should be kids friendly. It would depend on the vaccination sites of local government units,” she added.
Reyes said that based on data, the side effect of vaccines on children is mild. Citing statistics, she said that those with serious adverse effects are only 2.4 percent and 97.6 percent have no side effects.
Mild side effects include fever, pain in the injection site, fatigue, and headache.
It is recommended that children showing mild side effects should be observed within one to two days and if they persist, they can call their pediatrician.
Data from the DOH data showed that 12 percent or 21,713 of the 176,638 COVID-19 cumulative cases in the region are children 17 years old and below.
There were also 62 cases of pediatric deaths, 27 of whom are children below 5 years old. – with a report from the Philippine News Agency
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