Department of Health seeks Pfizer vaccines for children ages 5-11


Patricia, 8, winces after receiving her first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech covid19 vaccine for children aged 5 to 11, at a vaccination center in Bucharest, Romania, on Wednesday. AP PHOTO –

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said the ministry was in negotiations with Pfizer-BioNTech to buy its covid19 vaccine for children aged 5 to 11. He said a non-disclosure agreement had been signed with the company.

Speaking at the ministry’s virtual press conference on Wednesday, Deyalsingh said the ministry was exploring several areas to acquire the vaccines.

“We are in the market, actively researching the special pediatric formula, which currently appears to be what we will need to use. We are confident that we are in a pretty good position, I cannot divulge the nature of the conversations but I assure you that we are exerting a lot of force and pressure on all fronts to ensure that we have stocks of vaccines.

“We are also pursuing initiatives through CARPHA (the Caribbean Public Health Agency) for a collective purchase of the same vaccine in the Caribbean region, so we are exploring all alternatives to purchase these vaccines for the age group. from 5 to 11 years old. As soon as we know when and how many doses and shipping details, we will come to you.

Deyalsingh said the ministry will hold consultations with stakeholders such as the National Parents Association and the Pediatric Society on the issue of vaccinations for the age group.

He said since the World Health Organization announced last Friday that it had granted an emergency use license to Pfizer for its vaccine, the ministry had held several technical meetings.

“We have had technical meetings with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), CARPHA and others to dissect what the release says. The information we have is that approval has been granted for the pediatric formula special, which is lower dosage, different dosage, pad and package are different.

“Now that we know the formula in the interim guidance is the special pediatric formula, we are also liaising with the Pediatric Society, and those discussions will continue. We will also call a meeting through the CMO office with other stakeholders like NPTA etc.

The Minister of Health also confirmed that the ministry still has 298,162 doses of the Pfizer vaccine for adults on hand, which are due to expire at the end of February.

CARPHA technical coordinator Dr Rian Extavour said shelf lives are determined by studying stability over time.

“Usually manufacturers in their literature will give an expiration date that ends the month before the study says they cannot guarantee it. I want to point out that on the first of the following month, vaccines or drugs don’t just go 100% bad there’s a period of time that the manufacturer says they can’t guarantee it past a certain date, so just to be on the safe side, that’s the date we give you. But they don’t just deteriorate and fall apart. We advise people to observe the expiry date and the ministries are guided accordingly through the product information when using it.

Maria J. Book