VAX FOR KIDS. A minor receives his Covid-19 vaccine at the newly-renovated Manila Zoo in Malate on Jan. 19, 2022. The zoo and Bagong Ospital ng Maynila will be the site of the initial rollout of vaccines for the 5 to 11 age group starting at 1 p.m. on Monday (Feb. 7, 2022). (PNA photo by Avito Dalan)

MANILA – The Philippine Pediatric Society (PPS) and the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines (PIDSP) reiterated their full support for the Department of Health (DOH) and National Task Force (NTF) program to inoculate children aged 5 to 11 against Covid-19.

The initial rollout will be held in six venues in Metro Manila on Monday while a nationwide vaccination may be held on February 14.

In the groups’ joint statement released by the NTF on Sunday, the group said they are alarmed over recent reports of a few doctors who “caused undue fear and have stirred considerable vaccine hesitancy among parents and guardians".

“Let us be clear and unequivocal: Covid-19 disease directly affects children and may lead to serious consequences. Children 5 to 11 years of age are at risk of severe illness from Covid-19,” read the PPS and PIDSP statement.

The groups said Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) is also most frequent among children 5 to 11 years old.

“Unfortunately, some of us in our practice have already encountered a few pediatric patients with MIS-C, a few of whom have succumbed to the illness. Other post-Covid conditions have also been seen in this age group, including long Covid. Though majority of children infected with SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2) present with asymptomatic or mild disease, MISC-C and post-Covid conditions can and typically occur after asymptomatic or mild infection,” they said.

Among the indirect effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on children are worsening mental and emotional health, widening of education gaps, decreased physical activity and increased body mass index, decreased routine immunizations, and increase in Adverse Childhood Experiences, according to the PPS and PIDSP.

“Broad vaccination implementation would reduce the public health burden of Covid-19 in children 5-11 years of age,” they said.

The Food and Drug Administration approved the use of lower-dosed Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines for the age group.

The 780,000 doses procured by the government were delivered on Friday night while another 780,000 may arrive by February 9.

The DOH also reported that after vaccinating by at least one dose about 8.8 million children aged 12 to 17 years since October, 99 percent did not report any side effects after getting vaccinated.

Dizziness, pain in the injection area, and headache among the 0.3 percent eventually disappeared.

NTF chief Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. will be joined by other officials at the National Children’s Hospital vaccination site along E. Rodriguez Avenue in Quezon City on Monday morning.

Dr. Joselyn Eusebio, PPS president, will also deliver a message.

“We are glad that as a nation, we are able to extend the protection given to adults and adolescents to now include children as young as 5 years old. Parents and guardians of children aged 5 to 11 years are enjoined to discuss vaccination with their health care provider and obtain their information from reputable sources with the right experience and expertise,” they said.

PPS and PIDSP also called on the media to work with medical groups in providing scientific evidence-based information.

“Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent Covid-19. Rest assured that as vanguards of the health of the Filipino child, the PPS and PIDSP will continue to monitor data on vaccine safety, efficacy and effectiveness, and will provide updates as needed to guide Covid-19 vaccination recommendations in children,” the groups said. (PNA)