I'm not yet a parent but I have young cousins and several godchildren from dear friends so I was worried when I read in the recent news that they might be vulnerable to some preventable diseases and that Philippines might face an outbreak because Filipino children are not getting vaccinated!
PH vaccination rate at an all-time low
Vaccination rate in the Philippines is now at an all-time low because of the lockdown, a Department of Health (DOH) official said. For this reason, the DOH and other medical experts are calling for continued immunization despite the quarantine explaining that the country could not afford an outbreak within a pandemic.
The DOH National Immunization Program manager, Dr. Maria Wilda Silva, said that from January to March, vaccination coverage has dropped to 7 percent which is an all-time low. This number is way below the ideal 24 percent coverage for the country to reach the 95 percent target by end 2020.
“This is very low because of the disruption from both the supply and demand side,” Silva said in the recent online kapihan of Samahang Plaridel.
The call for immunization is strongly aligned with the statements released by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF which also highlighted the importance of continuing vaccination at this challenging time said that the benefits of immunization clearly outweigh the risks at this time.
DOH, experts call for continued immunization amid pandemic
According to an entry I read on FamilyDoctor.Org, Pneumococcal disease is caused by bacteria. It can lead to infections in the lungs, blood, and brain. Pneumococcal disease causes health problems in children younger than 5 years of age. This includes meningitis, blood infections, and ear infections. And children below 2 years old are at greater risk of infection.
Silva shared that one of the vaccine-preventable diseases, pneumonia, remains the number one killer disease among children 5 years old and below. The tender for the child pneumococcal vaccine—between PCV 10 and PCV 13-- is currently being reviewed by the Health Technology Assessment Council (HTAC) for comparability and cost effectiveness.
Asked on the new evidence presented by the World Health Organization (WHO) saying that the two PCVs in the market are equally effective in protecting the children from pneumonia, Silva said: “When we did the cost effectiveness analysis, they are both cost effective. The price of PCV10 and PCV13, they fall on that range na cost effective sila pareho. But, of course, there is another benefit when we chose the PCV13 because it contains te three serotypes that are not found in PCV10 before. But now with the new evidence, this was now presented to National Immunization Committee and then it was brought up to the HTAC for further review and we are waiting for the review.”
In the article by kidshealth.org, I learned that children younger than 2 years old and adults over 65, as well as other people with some medical conditions are at high risk for serious pneumococcal infections. The PC vaccines are very effective at preventing severe disease, expensive hospitalization and death.
The PCV tender is massive, which is even bigger than that of the controversial Dengvaxia procurement.
“Currently, there is only one available pneumococcal conjugate vaccine available in the market (PCV 13). It is a very expensive vaccine and its eating up more than 60% of the budget of the national immunization program. Mahal talaga pag isang produkto lang ang nasa merkado, ” Silva said.
The HTAC Review of the PCV vaccines is expected to be completed this June.
DID YOU KNOW?!
For her part, Dr. Mary Ann Bunyi, president of the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines (PIDSP), said that like COVID-19, “each opponent virus has its own effective weapon of infecting vulnerable individuals, especially children which is why, vaccination is critical even during a pandemic.
“Sa ngayon, meron na tayong mabisang bala para sa tigdas, polio, tusperina, flu, pulmonya, pagtatae at iba pang mga sakit. So, labanan natin at sugpuin natin ito upang mapanatili nating malusog ang ating mga bata. Sama-sama, tulong-tulong tayong ihayag sa mga magulang kung gaano kahalaga ang magpabakuna.” (For now, we already have an effective defense weapon against measles, polio, pertussis, flu, pneumonia, diarrhea, and many other illnesses. We need to fight and beat these to ensure the health of our kids. We should all together make parents aware how important it is to get vaccinated.)
So mga Moshies and popshies, alam nyo na po dapat gawin ha?! Bawal pasaway, say YES to BAKUNA!
Let us make sure that we prevent any disease outbreak especially during this pandemic. We cannot afford to lose this preventable battle to diseases and affect the future Filipino children. Mahalaga po ang pagpapabakuna!