House OKs bill expanding coverage of free immunization to include adults
MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives approved on third and final reading the bill seeking to expand the mandatory immunization program to include adults in a bid to enhance the country’s efforts towards disease prevention.
During Monday’s session, the lower chamber approved House Bill No. 8558 or the Mandatory Immunization Program Act with 206 affirmative votes, one negative, and one abstention.
The proposed measure sought to repeal Republic Act No. 10152 or the Mandatory Infants and Children Health Immunization Act of 2011, which only covers infants and children, and only a number of diseases with corresponding vaccine program.
The measure also aimed to create the National Immunization Technical and Advisory Group (NITAG) that shall serve as a technical and independent multi-disciplinary advisory body to the Department of Health (DOH) on immunization and vaccine “for all life stages.”
The mandatory immunization should cover vaccine-preventable diseases such as tuberculosis; diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis; poliomyelitis; measles; mumps; rubella or German measles; Hepatitis-B; H. Influenza type B; rotavirus; and, Japanese encephalitis, among others.
“The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) shall include the mandatory immunization services specified under this Act in its benefit package. However, such other types under Section 4 (n) shall undergo evaluation by the Health Technology Assessment Council pursuant to RA 11223, otherwise known as the ‘Universal Health Care Act,’ before its inclusion in the benefit package,” the proposed law stated.
This means that the administration of the vaccines will be free if undertaken in a government hospital, or, if in a private facility, will be covered by PhilHealth.
The measure also mandates age provision of free vaccines in government hospitals or facilities, and public school, or community under its school-based or community-based immunization program, and in any private health facility.
Among the new vaccines to be made available for free to adults are: rotavirus, Japanese encephalitis, human papilloma virus (HPV), boosts for measles, rubella, tetanus, and diphtheria.
“The DOH shall determine the vaccines suitable for various age groups from the list enumerated in Section 4 of this Act,” it further said.
The DOH is likewise mandated to conduct massive and continuing education and information campaigns on the importance of giving basic immunization.
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