Pediatric Covid-19 vaccination drive now includes younger kids

Young Filipinos can now get pediatric Covid-19 vaccinations in hopes of getting back to attending physical school. This is after two years of online learning due to the pandemic.

The vaccine drive for children aged 5-11 that began on 8th February 2022 expands on earlier inoculation efforts for minors, which started on 15th October 2021 for children and teens aged 12-17.

What is the difference in the Covid-19 vaccine for kids and adults?

a boy getting the pediatric Covid-19 vaccinationA boy from Valenzuela City is getting his first dose of the pediatric dose of Pfizer
Image credit: Valenzuela City

Filipino adults can receive vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna, and other FDA-approved brands; however, the government only authorizes Pfizer for children.

The Pfizer vaccine for kids is specially formulated for younger bodies – it only has 10 micrograms per dose compared to the adult version, which has 30 micrograms per dose.

Pediatric Covid-19 vaccinations made kid-friendly

Easing children’s needle fears is essential so that more kids can get protection against the virus, in time for face-to-face classes.

That’s why the Department of Health (DOH) and local government units (LGUs) made the inoculation drive as fun and exciting as possible using mascots, costumes, music, and colorful designs at vaccination sites.

Covid-19 pediatri vaccination in Mandaluyong City
Kids received backpacks after vaccination from ​​the LGU of Mandaluyong
Image credit: Department of Tourism

LGUs even partnered with malls and kid-friendly fast food restaurants to provide giveaways, entertainment, and food while the children and their guardians wait in line.

a kid getting his free Jollibee meal after vaccination
One of the vaccinated kids getting his free Jollibee
Image credit: DOH

Parents’ concerns about vaccinating children

A group of parents represented by the Public Attorneys’ Office (PAO) filed against the DOH Memorandum No. 2022-0041 dated 24th January 2022. They’re protesting the provision allowing the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to forgo parental consent to vaccinate kids.

The DOH has amended the original guidelines with Memorandum No. 2022-004-A and reiterated that vaccination is voluntary and not compulsory.

Additionally, the Alliance of Filipinos for Freedom and Informed Choice (AFFIC) also filed a petition in the Quezon City regional trial court. The AFFIC states that the pediatric Covid-19 vaccine is allegedly experimental and exposes the children to risks that outweigh the benefits.

On the other hand, the Philippine Pediatric Society (PPS), the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines (PIDSP), the Department of Education (DepEd), and the office of the solicitor general (OSG) supports DOH and the inoculation efforts for minors amidst the anti-vaccination sentiments.

Experts support vaccination efforts with evidence-based results

A shared statement from the PPS and PIDSP highlights the following facts about pediatric Covid-19 vaccinations:

  • The Philippines and other countries approve of the Pfizer vaccine due to its efficacy of 90.7% (95% CI, 67.7 –98.3).
  • The US administered approximately 8.7 million Pfizer doses in children aged 5–11 years, with few adverse effects.
  • Common reactions such as pain at the injection site, fatigue, and headache were mild and brief. The said effects are typical signs that the body is building protection against the virus.

Pediatric vaccination is the key to school doors opening again

The government plans on continuing the vaccination of about 28.3 million minors aged 5-17 years old. And as of 18th February 2022, the DOH already administered the low-dosage Pfizer vaccine to around 329,000 kids aged 5-11 years.

Physical classes in Valenzuela City 2022
A dry run of the limited face-to-face classes in Valenzuela City
Image credit: Valenzuela City

DepEd supports the vaccination drive, as conveyed by Secretary Leonor Briones’ statement in a press release, “We believe that the future of our learners is related to well-being, mental health, and physical health. We cannot achieve and move to new forms and ways of teaching unless our children are healthy.”

Let’s hope for a smooth vaccination drive for our children and youths, so that we can get back to face-to-face learning to help them reach their potential.

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Cover image adapted from: Valenzuela City, Jenor Aguilar

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