By Jennylou Canon

PHOTO: Manila News

The World Health Organization (WHO) advised the Philippines that vulnerable individuals must be prioritized in COVID-19 vaccination once the country widens the vaccine coverage to children and adolescents.

WHO Representative to the Philippines Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe said that minors with comorbidities of age group 12-18 years old must be vaccinated first before the general population due to the limited vaccine supply.

"If the [vaccines] are cleared for this age group and registered in the Philippine FDA (Food and Drug Administration), they can protect those vulnerable people within that age group but they should not be for the general population of 12-18 years old," Dr. Abeyasinghe said.

COVID-19 vaccines are already allowed to be used on children and teens in some other countries such as in the United States using Pfizer and China using Sinovac.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health (DOH) has welcomed the possible use of Sinovac to minors once proven that it is safe to be used for them after gaining Chinese authorization to be used in children and adolescents, 

"Kung mapatunayan natin na ito ay magiging ligtas and it's going to protect our children, of course the Philippines will be open to this." DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said.

The country has 9.3 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, with 6.5 million doses from Sinovac.

As of June 6, 5,965,651 individuals have been vaccinated against COVID-19, with 4,386,467 receiving their first dose and 1,520,651 being fully vaccinated as they receive their second dose.