DOH starts free vaccination vs pneumonia in ARMM, Caraga
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) announced on Wednesday that parents nationwide could avail of free vaccines against pneumonia for their children in all the country’s health centers as part of its expanded program on immunization in the next few years.
Citing records from the Philippine Health Statistics, Health Secretary Enrique Ona said pneumonia ranked as the second leading cause of infant mortality in 2010, accounting for 2,628 deaths.
Cost of care for a patient with pneumonia could reach P23,500, including hospitalization, professional fee, consultation, laboratory tests and medication while the vaccine costs only P2,050 per full vaccination per child, noted Ona.
But under the DOH program, the vaccine will be administered for free.
“This is part of our goal to achieve better health outcomes and meet our health-related Millennium Development Goals by strengthening existing public health programs, such as expanding immunization interventions,” said Ona.
The DOH Expanded Program on Immunization provides free vaccines to protect infants and children from common preventable diseases such as tuberculosis, rotavirus, measles, mumps, rubella, polio, diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, hepatitis B and influenza.
The integration of the Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV) will be phased, according to Ona.
Two regions, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and the Caraga region will be the first recipients of the PCV within July. Additional regions will be included in the program every year until 100 percent of the regions are covered.
The vaccine will be administered to about 333,000 infants aged between six months and 11 months old in the two regions. These infants represent 14 percent of the 2.4 million infants nationwide that needs to be covered by the PCV, said Ona.
Caraga was chosen for the initial implementation of the PCV to complement the rotavirus vaccination that was started in the region in July 2012, he explained.
The ARMM and Caraga were also among the regions with a high number of pneumonia cases, he added.
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