Immunization should continue amid COVID-19 pandemic – health experts | Inquirer News

Immunization should continue amid COVID-19 pandemic – health experts

/ 10:21 PM May 17, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Immunization against vaccine-preventable diseases should continue since the country could not afford to have another outbreak amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, health experts said.

“Let us all be reminded that, first, if children and other vulnerable sectors are not vaccinated, they can get sick and can die from these vaccine-preventable diseases,” Dr. Lulu Bravo, executive director of the Philippine Foundation for Vaccination, said in a statement.


Dr. Wilda Silva, director of the National Immunization Program of the Department of Health, also said the government recognized immunization as a core health service that should be prioritized even during a pandemic.

“But we also accept the fact that we need to protect our health care workers and our community as well. We must strike that balance between giving that life-saving vaccine, protecting children against vaccine-preventable diseases, and protecting our health workers against COVID,” she added.


“The position of the DOH when the COVID crisis was at its height, was to offer immunization services when feasible,” said Silva.

She noted that one of the vaccine-preventable diseases, pneumonia, remains the number one killer disease among children aged five and below.

The tender for the child pneumococcal vaccine—between PCV 10 and PCV 13– is currently being reviewed by the Health Technology Assessment Council (HTAC) for comparability and cost-effectiveness.
Asked on the new evidence presented by the World Health Organization (WHO) saying that the two PCVs in the market are equally effective in protecting the children from pneumonia, Silva said: “When we did the cost-effectiveness analysis, they are both cost-effective. The price of PCV10 and PCV13, they fall on that range na cost effective sila pareho. But, of course, there is another benefit when we chose the PCV13 because it contains the three serotypes that are not found in PCV10 before. But now with the new evidence, this was now presented to National Immunization Committee and then it was brought up to the HTAC for further review and we are waiting for the review.”
The HTAC Review of the PCV vaccines is expected to be completed this June.

For her part, Dr. Mary Ann Bunyi, president of the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines, said that like COVID-19 “each opponent virus has its effective weapon of infecting vulnerable individuals, especially children.” She said this is why vaccination is critical even during a pandemic.

“Right now, we already have an effective defense against measles, polio, pertussis, flu, pneumonia, diarrhea, and other illnesses. We need to fight and beat them to ensure the health of our kids. We should all together make parents aware of how important it is for children to get vaccinated,” Bunyi said in Filipino.


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