Funds to vaccinate minors may come from budget for vaccine-hesitant adults – DOF Chief

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 15) — Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III on Tuesday said it will cost the government an estimated ₱20 billion to ₱25 billion to vaccinate about 15 million minors in the country aged 12-15 against COVID-19.

During the Senate inquiry on the status of the government's ₱88.6-billion vaccination program, the Finance chief said funding can come from the budget allocated to protect adults who are hesitant to get vaccinated.

Dominguez cited consistent survey results showing a large portion of the adult population are still "anti-vaxxers" despite repeated reassurances of safety and efficacy.

"I'm going to be very honest with you, not everybody is going to accept the vaccination. We know from surveys that there are probably 25-30% of the adult population who don't want to be vaccinated. That will be able to cover the children who want to be vaccinated at the moment," he told lawmakers.

The government has sealed deals to receive at least 149.8 million COVID-19 vaccine doses this year. This is in line with the Duterte administration's goal for 70 million adult Filipinos to receive two full doses to reach herd immunity by December.

Dominguez, however, admitted that this figure does not include minors aged 12-15 since the country's Food and Drug Administration only recently approved allowing them to receive Pfizer's COVID-19 shots.

During the Cabinet meeting Monday night, Dominguez assured President Rodrigo Duterte that the government has "enough reserves to cover that amount of money" if those aged 12-15 need to be vaccinated. He added there are enough funds to vaccinate the entire adult population and the minors.

Dominguez also said they are preparing to buy booster shots or an additional third dose for roughly 85 million Filipino adults and teens, costing ₱60 billion.