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On pediademic: Salceda calls for stronger screening, informed consent amid preparations for pediatric vaccination; House tax chair calls on government to “learn from lessons of Dengvaxia”

January 13th, 2022

House Ways and Means Chair Joey Sarte Salceda (Albay, 2nd district) urged the national government to “learn the lessons of Dengvaxia” and ensure that there is strong screening, public communications, and informed consent measures around the planned COVID-19 vaccination of children ages 5 to 11.

“These children are below the age of reason, so we really need very strong measures to ensure that one, parents know exactly what they are signing their children up for. We also need strong screening procedures, so from now, we should already be having Barangay Health Workers do questionnaires and profiles of children in their constituencies,” Salceda said.

Salceda adds that “the pitfall of Dengvaxia was one, the screening procedures were not as stringent, two, the public communication effort failed, and three, the narrative spiraled out of control because there are questions about whether the parental consent given was truly informed consent,” Salceda added.

“Screening, in particular, will be reassuring. If there are pediatricians on site, and not just nurses, that will probably be both safe for the children and reassuring to the parents. US protocols for pediatric vaccination indicate some need for screening for allergies. It’s best to have doctors ready to respond in case any adverse reaction takes place,” Salceda urged.

“We should also be communicating to families the risks and benefits of the vaccine on children by now,” Salceda also said.

“We should learn from its lessons so we don’t spoil what is in all likelihood something that is for the common good.”

The government has already procured 15 million Pfizer doses for children below 11 years of age. The vaccination rollout is expected to begin in February, based on statements by National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 Chair Carlito Galvez.

Thus far, the United States Center for Disease Control (CDC) only authorizes Pfizer as the appropriate vaccine for children below age 11.

Salceda said that the training for health care workers who will administer the doses will also have to begin.

Salceda also recalled the recommendation by the Philippine Pediatric Society that “older and more vulnerable adult age groups should still be given precedence in the vaccination roll-out.”

“Once a sufficient percentage has been vaccinated in the priority adult groups, children 12 years-old and above may be considered for vaccination, with priority given to those who live in areas with high transmission and those with co-morbidities,” an August 2021 statement by the organization stated.

“Vaccinating qualified adult household members not only protect these individuals, but also extends protection to children and other vulnerable persons who cannot be vaccinated (i.e. “cocoon” strategy),” the statement also said.

“The PPS is probably the most important authority on this matter, so their opinion on the schedule of the rollout also has to be considered.”

“Personally, I think we should still prioritize adult vaccination for now. But if we are to roll out pediatric vaccination, we have to have pediatricians on site, and BHWs should be activated to monitor side effects and ensure that parents are capable of responding to these side effects,” Salceda said.

“There is a different sentimental and emotional response to pediatric vaccination. So, we have to be careful, sensitive, and considerate in rolling the program out.” #

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