Maintaining Routine Immunization Amidst Pandemic

While cases of Covid-19 continue to rise, we should not forget other preventable diseases if only immunization is given. Following dengue vaccine scare, some parents refused to bring their babies for the routine immunization and this resulted to a significant increase in number of measles and polio cases last year. Vaccines saved countless lives, preventing an estimate of 2.5 million deaths globally per year. When vulnerable people are not vaccinated, they are at risk of getting disease.


Importance of Continuing Vaccination


In the recent tele-conference "Kapihan ng Samahang Plaridel" I attended, the doctor/speakers discussed the importance of continuing immunization in the midst of pandemic. They also presented some challenges being faced by the healthcare workers as well as the parents bringing their kids for routine immunization.

Continuing Routine Immunization Amidst Pandemic


Dr. Lulu Bravo said that if we do not vaccinate, diseases that have become uncommon such as pertussis can become ordinary. People are afraid of vaccination because of the risks, the truth is risks related to immunization are very small and rare.

Aside from negatively impacting the health of Filipinos, infectious diseases also damage the country's economy. Vaccines are responsible for the many infectious diseases such as measles, mumps, and influenza.


Here are some recommendations by Dr. Lulu Bravo

1. Parents living under the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) are advised to contact their health center and/or doctor for child's immunization.

2. Some hospitals provided a room specific for immunization so that well babies will not get in contact with sick babies.

3. It's time we develop a tele-health or tele-medicine to limit face to face consultation. This online doctor's consultation will be part of new normal.

Speakers Dr. Lulu Bravo, Executive Director of the Philippine Foundation for Vaccination, Dr. Mary Ann Bunyi of Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines, and Dra. Maria Silva Wilda, DOH National Immunization Program Manager.


Routine Immunization Amidst Pandemic


Updates on Pneumococcal vaccine

Dra. 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 the 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.”

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.

Dra. Silva leads the Measles-Rubella and OPV immunization campaign


Dr Maria Wilda Silva, DOH National Immunization Program Manager, leads health workers in the recent launch of the Measles-Rubella and OPV immunization campaign in Region I. Photo from PIA.

It is important to continue routine immunization to prevent diseases especially in high risks people such as the very young and the old. The Department of Health encourages the parents as well as the adults to get immunized amidst the health crisis we are facing. Through proper hand washing, social distancing and the use of protective measures such as face mask, we can protect ourselves and our loved ones from getting the the virus while visiting our health care center.

Don't increase the burden that Covid is giving. Have yourself, your kids and loved ones vaccinated. Not only babies need vaccination even adults and the older people for influenza vaccine.


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