Duterte, Robredo urged to jointly promote immunization program
MANILA, Philippines — Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto on Thursday urged President Rodrigo Duterte and Vice President Leni Robredo to have a joint public service announcement (PSA) to promote immunization.
Recto said that while the government’s Expanded Program of Immunization has a budget of P7.5 billion this year to cover about 12 million individuals, only 2.8 million have been vaccinated as of June.
“That is the sad halftime score,” he said in a statement.
However, the country can still meet the target through a massive information program, according to Recto.
“Perhaps the President and the Vice President can do a joint PSA—a public service announcement—that will promote this life saving program. It is a PSA that is a PDA—public display of affection for children and seniors,” he said.
“If there is one lesson that can be gleaned from successful mass vaccination drives, it is this: You have to inform before you can inject,” he explained.
Recto explained that high-profile endorsers are needed to increase the vaccination figures, adding that the immunization compliance has already been going down even before the coronavirus outbreak.
With communities locked down, schools closed, and transportation disrupted, the immunization program is clearly a “coronavirus casualty,” said the senator.
“The scorecard this year so far points to a slippage that must be overcome,” he added.
Citing data from the Department of Health, Recto said that of the 2.12 million children under one year old who must receive the full sets of vaccines for infants, only 332,000 were fully immunized by the end of March this year. This means only one out of seven children under this age has been vaccinated.
Meanwhile, of the 8.6 million school children up for immunization, only 2.458 million, or three out of 10, have been vaccinated.
Recto noted that this year’s immunization program also covers senior citizens, about 1.285 million of them who are slated to receive influenza and pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPV23).
“If there is one lesson that this pandemic has reaffirmed, it is that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” he concluded.
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