Health chief declares vaccination scare over
MANILA, Philippines — Parents’ aversion to having their children vaccinated due to the Dengvaxia scare is finally over, according to the Department of Health (DOH).
Vaccine coverage for children 6 to 59 months old has reached 94 percent, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said at a press conference in Taguig City on Wednesday.
The DOH is targeting a 95-percent vaccination rate to achieve what it calls “herd immunity.”
Meanwhile, the inoculation of students from kindergarten to Grade 7 reached 12 percent for children 6 to 11 years old and 22 percent for those aged 12 and above.
Duque acknowledged the low rates for the two groups of students, but noted that vaccinating them was “more systematic as they are already in schools.”
The DOH said it planned to vaccinate 9.9 million students from June to September.
Besides measles vaccine, the students would also be inoculated against tetanus, diphtheria and cervical cancer, it said.
“[With the high vaccine coverage rate and the renewed confidence of parents in vaccines], I believe the Dengvaxia scare is over,” the health chief said.
The DOH blamed the measles outbreak it declared nationwide in February on the drop in immunization rates due to the controversy that hounded the dengue vaccination program.
Citing a study made by the Philippine Survey Research Center, Duque noted that 94 percent of parents—up 17 percentage points from last year — now see the importance of having their children vaccinated.
But the DOH would not lift the measles outbreak declaration so as not to make parents complacent, he said. —With a report from Aizam Umal