The Philippines would need an additional P25 billion budget to include teens in its COVID-19 vaccination program, the Department of Finance said Tuesday.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III clarified the request for supplemental funding, which he said would be used to secure jabs for those aged 12 to 15.
"That is not in our original plan because our original plan had only adults and we only have 70 million adults in the Philippines. We have another roughly 15 million teenagers," he said during the hearing of the Senate Committee of the Whole.
"If we are going to do that, we will have to fund that roughly, for 15 million, maybe around P25 billion," he added.
Dominguez said the amount is just an estimate and the final cost would depend on the vaccine brand to be recommended for children. At present, the only recommended vaccine for children is the one manufactured by Pfizer.
Dominguez said the government was preparing to purchase booster shoots of one dose for around 85 million adults and teenagers which could cost around P60 billion. The proposal is to include such amount in the 2022 national budget, he added.
"At the moment, we have enough money to fully scale up our vaccination program to the end of the current year," Dominguez said.
The Department of Health earlier said children aged 12 to 15 with comorbidities are now qualified for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
The Food and Drug Administration recently amended the emergency use authorization for the Pfizer vaccine to include 12 to 15 year-olds, but the brand's rollout will be limited to those with preexisting medical conditions due to limited supply.
The U.S. FDA earlier authorized the use of Pfizer vaccines, which offers more than 95% protection against the coronavirus, for minors ages 12 to 15. The American vaccine manufacturer said it is 100% effective in the said age group.