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Pfizer vaccine not for kids under 16

A party-list solon has reminded Filipinos that children under 16 years of age will not be receiving any shots of the coronavirus vaccine that has already obtained emergency use authorizations (EUAs) in the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada.

Anakalusugan party-list Rep. Michael Defensor said for now, the vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE cannot be used in individuals younger than 16 years old, based on a comprehensive review of the EUAs issued by pharmaceutical regulators in the three countries.

“The use of the vaccine in pregnant women and mothers who are breastfeeding is also either totally not recommended, or being discouraged with stern warnings,” Defensor, House health committee vice chairperson, pointed out.

“We expect our own Food and Drug Administration here to affirm the same recommendations – once the vaccine gets an EUA here – simply because the safety and efficacy of the shots in children under 16, pregnant women and mothers who are breastfeeding has yet to established by further clinical trials,” Defensor said.

Defensor’s statement came just as the Philippines is experiencing a “baby boom” owing to lockdowns and strict stay-at-home orders.

The Philippines is expected to record this year some two million pregnancies, of which 214,000 are unplanned, according to the Commission on Population and Development.

Defensor added that in Britain, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is “absolutely not recommended for use in pregnant women and mothers who are breastfeeding.”

“In fact, under their immunization guidelines, in all women of child-bearing age, pregnancy has to be ruled out first prior to vaccination,” Defensor said.

“Women of child-bearing age are also being told to avoid pregnancy for at least two months after their second dose of the vaccine,” he added.

The vaccine is meant to be administered intramuscularly in the arm in a series of two doses 21 days apart.

In America and Canada, the use of the vaccine in pregnant women and mothers who are breastfeeding is also being discouraged with alerts.

The Philippines has sealed a deal to secure shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine through the efforts of Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, according to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.