Recto to DOH: Use ad funds to fight ‘fake news’ on vaccination programs
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto on Monday urged the Department of Health (DOH) to use its P643-million advertising war chest for this year to fight “fake news” on vaccines in general spawned by the botched dengue vaccination program.
Recto said the DOH budget for advertising was big enough to “calm unfounded concerns” about immunization, adding that the agency must launch an information drive to prevent the dengue vaccine flop from eroding public confidence in government healthcare programs.
“Science must trump superstition,” he said.
He pointed out that the government would be buying P7.4 billion worth of vaccines for this year that would benefit millions of children, women and senior citizens.
Last week, the DOH expressed alarm that its public health and immunization programs were suffering due to the Dengvaxia controversy, saying many parents have kept away from important vaccines after it stopped the massive dengue immunization program last November.
Recto said that if this unfounded fear continued “it would put millions of children, seniors and women at risk.”
“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,” the senator 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.”
With a price tag of P7.43 billion, the 2018 public vaccination program aims to fully immunize 2.7 million infants, of which 1.4 million will be given pneumococcal vaccine.
All the 2.7 million infants will also be administered Japanese Encephalitis vaccine, noted Recto.
For this year, the DOH vaccination program also targets 2.1 million first grade and 1.7 million seventh grade students for anti-tetanus, diphtheria and measles shots.
Tetanus vaccines will also be given to 2.7 million pregnant women.
At least 1.2 million flu shots and 1.3 million pneumococcal vaccines have been allotted for seniors this year.
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