DOH, UNICEF: Continue kids’ vaccination despite COVID-19 crisis
MANILA, Philippines — Immunization of children against various diseases should remain a priority even as the country is currently grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario S. Vergeire stressed this as she noted that “the country cannot afford to have an outbreak within an outbreak.”
“Ang pagpapabakuna ay para sa lahat or vaccines work for all. Ayon sa World Health Organization (WHO), ang pagpapabakuna ay nakakapagligtas ng milyong buhay taon-taon at kinikilala na isa sa pinaka-successful at cost-effective health intervention sa lahat,” Vergeire said in a recent online press briefing.
(Vaccination is for all and works for all. According to the WHO, vaccination saves millions of lives yearly. It is known as the most successful and cost-effective health intervention.)
According to Undersecretary for Public Health Services Dr. Myrna Cabotaje, the priority vaccines that are still critical despite the COVID-19 pandemic include BCG, hepatitis B, polio, dipterya, pertussis, tetanus, measles, and pneumonia, among many others.
In the Philippines, pneumonia remains to be the number one killer disease among children five years old and below.
To safely implementing the immunization program during the health crisis, Cabotaje said health workers may be scheduled for a house-to-house vaccination.
Immunization may also be administered in private clinics, although strict physical distancing must be observed alongside orderly appointments to avoid overcrowding.
The Department of Health initiative supports the pronouncement of the WHO and UNICEF that “all governments begin rigorous planning now to intensify immunization activities once the COVID -19 pandemic is under control.”
Furthermore, UNICEF stated in a press release that it is “particularly concerned about countries that are battling measles, cholera or polio outbreaks while responding to COVID-19 cases, such as Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, the Philippines, Syria, and South Sudan.”
“At a time like this, these countries can ill-afford to face additional outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases. The message is clear: We must not allow lifesaving health interventions to fall victim to our efforts to address COVID-19,” UNICEF said.
UNICEF further stressed that it is imperative for immunization programs to “remain robust” and must reach those who need it most.
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