Recto urges DOH to use P634-M ad budget vs vaccine ‘fake news’
The Department of Health (DOH) should use its P634-million advertising budget to fight the “fake news that all vaccines are bad,” Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto urged on Monday.
Recto’s suggestion comes after health officials expressed alarm that their public health and immunization programs were suffering due to the Dengvaxia mess.
In a statement, the senator pointed out that the DOH’s “advertising war chest” was big enough “to calm unfounded concerns that immunization causes harm.”
“Science must trump superstition,” Recto said in calling on the DOH to launch an information drive so that the dengue vaccine flop would not erode public confidence on government healthcare programs.
Doctors and scientists had warned that the Dengvaxia controversy could trigger a “vaccine backlash,” and if this happens, Recto said, “It would put millions of children, seniors, women at risk.”
Recto revealed that government is buying P7.4 billion worth of vaccines this year, “in quantities that will benefit millions.”
“Whether we like it or not, one side effect of this Dengvaxia controversy is that people are asking if the vaccines to be bought using taxpayers’ money are safe,” Recto said.
“I know that they ought to be, but the DOH must still go out of its way to assure the public that vaccines meet the highest standards,” he added.
Costing P7.43 billion, Recto said the 2018 public vaccination program targets full immunization of 2.7 million infants, of which 1.4 million infants would be given pneumococcal vaccine.
All 2.7 million infants would also be administered vaccines against Japanese Encephalitis, he added.
In addition, Recto said 2.1 million Grade 1 and 1.7 million Grade 7 pupils would benefit from anti-Tetanus-Diptheria, and measles shots.
He likewise said tetanus vaccine would be administered to 2.7 million pregnant women, while 1.2 million flu shots and 1.3 million pneumococcal vaccines would be administered to seniors.
Citing the DOH briefer submitted before the Senate, Recto said full immunization for infants cover inoculations against Hepatitis, Polio, Pneumonia, Measles, Mumps and Rubella. /je
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