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As Omicron looms, doctors push vax efforts

PHILIPPINE STAR/ MICHAEL VARCAS

By Patricia B. Mirasol

IMMUNIZATION COVERAGE — including pediatric immunization — will help the country stave off the threat of Omicron, the newest coronavirus variant of concern, according to medical experts.

“We could use this as an opportunity to ramp up our immunization coverage,” said Dr. Nina G. Gloriani, chair of the government’s Vaccine Expert Panel – Technical Working Group for COVID-19 Vaccines, in a Nov. 29 meeting with the National Task Force Against COVID-19.

Data show that vaccines and boosters help protect individuals from earlier COVID-19 variants, she added in the vernacular.

In an earlier webinar organized by the Philippine Medical Association, doctors encouraged families to get their jabs as children aged 12 to 17 can receive Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, which were granted emergency use authorization (EUA) for this age group.

“These vaccines have a very good safety profile, but please don’t expect that you won’t experience any side effects. All vaccines give you these reactions,” Dr. Gloriani said at the Nov. 20 webinar. “The benefits of the COVID-19 vaccines outweigh any potential risks.”

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in September that two doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were highly effective in preventing COVID-19 hospitalization among persons aged 12-18 years.

SINOVAC FOR KIDS?
“Sinovac will definitely be applying for an amended EUA for its use for the younger age segment,” Enrique Y. Gonzalez, chairman of vaccine retailer Family Vaccine Specialty Clinics, Inc., said.

This, he added, will hinge on two components: real-world data across countries that administer Sinovac to youths, as well as the filing of the Phase III data of the pediatric trial Sinovac is undertaking.

Mr. Gonzalez added that based on the data that is available from countries administering Sinovac on children, its Adverse Effects Following Immunization are low and within the norm of vaccination use.

The [global] trial’s Phase III data will be available in the first quarter of next year,” he said. “We are confident that — upon the filing of this information — Sinovac will be made available for the younger age group.”

Dr. Lulu C. Bravo, who heads a national committee that monitors adverse effects post-immunization, said that all reports they generate on the COVID-19 vaccines are made transparent to the public.

“We are moving heaven and earth to make sure that what we report will be given due diligence, so we can conquer and restore vaccine confidence among our people,” Dr. Bravo said.

If a child does experience side effects, they will be similar to those seen in adults, according to Dr. Nina G. Gloriani, chairperson of the government’s Vaccine Expert Panel – Technical Working Group for COVID-19 Vaccines

soreness at the injection site,
fatigue,
headaches,
chills,
muscle aches, and
fever

These side effects are usually mild to moderate, temporary, and should go away in about 48 hours.

Adverse effects are rare and include anaphylaxis (or severe allergy) and myocarditis.

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