DOH advises parents: Get kids vaccinated
The Department of Health (DOH) has urged parents to have their children vaccinated to give them lifetime protection against potentially fatal but preventable diseases.
Health Secretary Janette Garin made this appeal as the school-based immunization program against measles, rubella, diphtheria and tetanus, which the health agency launched on Aug. 3, was observed to be moving slowly contrary to expectations.
Garin said the DOH allotted P120 million for the program, a reasonable price to spend for disease prevention compared to the high costs of treatment.
“Achieving 95-percent coverage will create a very hard cover that will protect the five percent. So when a virus comes, it cannot penetrate the thick shell, no outbreak will occur,” said Garin.
She also assured the parents that the vaccines being administered to the students, which will expire only next year, were safe and pre-qualified by the World Health Organization. “We only accept vaccines that have a shelf life of 18 to 24 months,” she said.
Giving an update on the school-based immunization program, Garin said that by now, at least 50 percent of the 4.36 million Grade 1 and Grade 7 students in all public schools nationwide should have already been given the tetanus-diphtheria and measles-rubella booster shots.
But as of Aug. 14, only 10 to 11 percent have been administered the vaccines, said Garin.
The month-long immunization program aims to achieve 95-percent coverage to attain herd immunity against the highly infectious measles, rubella and diphtheria and lifetime protection against tetanus.
Two weeks since the program was launched, only 199,426 out of the 2.5 million Grade 1 students have been given the measles-rubella vaccine while only 270,618 pupils have been administered the tetanus-diphtheria booster shot.
Out of the 1.86 million Grade 7 students who were to receive both booster vaccines, only 10 percent have been vaccinated, said Garin.
Metro Manila, Cagayan Valley, Calabarzon and the Caraga region have registered zero coverage of the vaccination at press time, she said.
As for Metro Manila, Garin explained that the program suffered setbacks because the regional health office had a hard time gathering the support of parents. “There is a delay in starting the program because we need parental consent,” she said.
She said parents became anxious about the program due to the false reports that marred the DOH’s school-based deworming campaign held last month in Zamboanga Peninusla.
Many parents in some areas in Zamboanga Peninsula panicked when they heard reports that some children were brought to hospitals as a result of the deworming.
“Because there was a scare and misinformation that occurred when we rolled out the deworming program, it affected our school-based immunization program,” Garin said.