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Expanded vaccination program to continue amid COVID-19 threat –DOH

The Philippines will continue to push through with its expanded immunization for children efforts even amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Health Undersecretary Rosario Vergeire said Tuesday.

While lockdown measures that require physical distancing and prohibit mass gatherings limited the implementation of the government’s immunization program, DOH personnel were still able to reach the beneficiaries using alternative strategies.

“May pagkakataon po talaga na hindi nakakalusot ang mga nanay sa mga checkpoint, pero may mga health workers po tayo na nagbahay-bahay para sa immunization, at meron ring pong mga health centers na nagkaroon ng scheduling para hindi po masyadong maraming tao sa health center at a given time,” Vergeire said.

“Meron po tayong na-procure para sa ating expanded program of immunization bago pa ang COVID-19 pandemic, at kung magkakaroon man tayo ng deficit sa next three months, tutulungan po tayo ng UNICEF na magprocure globally kasi mas mura po tayong makakabili. May mechanism po ang UNICEF for us,” Vergeire added.

The Health Undersecretary emphasized that immunizing children was essential, with or without the pandemic.

“Just like family planning po, di po dapat mawala ang immunization. Essential service po ito,” Vergeire said.

“This has to push through at binibigyan po natin ng halaga ito,” Vergeire added.

There had been a decline in the number of children availing of the state-funded vaccination program during the last two years after French manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur announced in November 2017 that the anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia may lead to more severe symptoms of dengue for those who have never been infected by the virus prior to vaccination.

This fear of government-sanctioned vaccine resulted in increases of cases of dengue, measles, and the re-emergence of polio.

Sanofi’s announcement, however, only came after more than 800,000 people had already been injected with the Dengvaxia vaccine.

While children who were vaccinated with Dengvaxia had died, medical records did not conclude that it was Dengvaxia which caused the children’s death. — DVM, GMA News