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Duterte urges the public to get vaccinated

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Wednesday, January 30th, 2019

FILE PHOTO: Vaccination (Ina Fassbender / Reuters)

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte urged parents to avail of the government’s free vaccination program for their children.

The Chief Executive noted a decline in number of parents availing vaccination for their children since the Dengvaxia controversy.

The President encouraged the public not to fear immunization to protect children from possible outbreak of diseases.

“Simula ‘yung nagkaroon ng gulo dito maraming mga pamilya dito sa Pilipinas, hindi lang sa Malabon, na natakot ng mga itong vaccination at ayaw na. Do not be lulled and be complacent about it kasi ang sanggol talaga kailangan,” the President said.

“Iyong Dengvaxia lang kung ayaw ninyo okay lang. But lahat ng anak ninyo hindi naman tayo nagkulang sa bakuna. Because it is good and it is for the health of the person noong maliit pa hanggang lumaki,” he added.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III noted a 40% drop in measles vaccination in 2018 due to the public’s declining trust in government immunization.

This report, Duque said, is a alarming and definitely a cause of concern for the government as health experts project a possible outbreak if children lack protection.

“You’re going to have outbreaks, sooner than later,” the health official said. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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DOH eyes vaccinating 9-M schoolchildren

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Wednesday, July 3rd, 2019

IMAGE_UNTV_NEWS_080717_HPV VACCINES

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday relaunched its school-based immunization program in a bid to have some 9 million children catch up on missed vaccinations this year.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the program aims to immunize students from kindergarten to Grade 7 with the measles and rubella vaccines. Students will also be given booster doses of tetanus-diptheria vaccines.

Duque led the vaccination of some children in Signal Village National High School in Taguig City on Wednesday morning (July 3).

The DOH chief said all students will undergo a quick health assessment and review of their vaccination status, stressing that only students with parental consent will be immunized.

In a speech, Duque called on parents to have their children vaccinated to protect them against diseases. He also cited the low response rate on the government’s immunization program due to reduced public trust following the dengvaxia controversy.

Although public response and trust in national immunization program has been notably increasing in Metro Manila in the past few months, Duque admitted, much is still needed to be done.

“Mababa pa rin, so iyan po mababa pa rin. That’s why we still need to aggressively pursue our National Immunization Program,” he said.

The DOH’s relaunching of its school-based immunization program comes after the declaration of a measles outbreak in February 2019. The outbreak status has yet to be lifted since its declaration in Metro Manila, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Western Visayas and Central Visayas.

According to Duque, they are targeting to reach 95% vaccination coverage this year to prevent repeated declaration of disease outbreaks due to the proliferation of false information.

“May iba umiiyak dahil namatay isa, dalawang anak dahil lang sa ayaw magpabakuna dahil nga bunsod ng maling impormasyon na kumakalat sa mga komunidad at minsan hindi naman talaga naippliwanag ng sapat.. ang nagiging resulta ay ang kaaawa-awang bata na nagkakaroon ng komplikasyon gaya ng measles,” he added.

The health official further emphasized the importance of availing free immunization in relation to the implementation of the Universal Health Care Law.

Duque said the school-based immunization program for this year will run until September. (with details from Aiko Miguel)

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Over a million Pakistani children missed vaccinations amid fake scare against polio vaccine

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Friday, May 3rd, 2019

Pakistani children are being lined up for vaccination | Courtesy : Reuters

A Federal government campaign to vaccinate more than 40 million children under five against polio in Pakistan has been suspended following a series of attacks on workers and police over the past week.

On April 23, a police officer responsible for protecting polio workers was gunned down in Bannu. The same day, a polio worker was injured with a knife in Lahore by a man refusing to allow his child to be vaccinated, citing a recent hoax video that claimed children were becoming ill after the immunisations.

The violence was preceded by a series of rumours intended to derail Pakistan’s campaign to eradicate the disease.

On April 22, several thousand children were taken to hospital in the north-west of the country by panicked parents after a video circulated on Facebook in which a man attested that children were falling sick following vaccinations.

The rumours spread like wildfire, triggering mass panic. Mobs burned a village health centre, blocked a highway and pelted cars with stones. Thirteen people are being investigated over the incident.

“The speed with which it (rumour) spread in the society, so quickly, it shows that there was some conspiracy against it (polio vaccinations). And obviously, government is investigating on those lines as well. The committee… Initially, the health department formed its own committee and we investigated this matter,” said Farooq Jameel, top Provincial Health official.

Vaccinators and police teams have previously been targeted in the country, where rumours have persisted about immunisation programmes being harmful or a cover for foreign interests.

But a shift to recruiting local workers for the door-to-door campaigns – people known and trusted in their communities and with the right language skills and access – had led to better acceptance.

“We knew that there was community mistrust, but community mistrust in one segment of society which refused vaccination due to religious beliefs will translate into the rest of the country, is something not seen in the past before in the polio program, because I’ve worked in the polio program myself for eight years and we haven’t seen any such phenomenon in the past in the program,” Babar Atta, Pakistan government’s focal person on polio said.

“But it clearly tells us that a lot of action and work now needs to be done at the community level at restoring public trust in vaccination campaigns,” the official added.

Pakistan has seen a 96% reduction in polio cases since 2014. It is one of three countries that have yet to eliminate the disease, along with Afghanistan and Nigeria. (REUTERS)

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Rabies vaccine in short supply—DOH

by Aileen Cerrudo   |   Posted on Thursday, March 7th, 2019

Kinuskos ko ng bawang [ang sugat] (I just rubbed garlic on her wound),” Rose Ann Condeno said while cradling her daughter in her arms.

Her daughter was recently clawed by a stray cat while playing outside—she has not been vaccinated with anti-rabies.

According to the Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Eric Domingo, victims of rabies rarely survive and almost 100 percent of them die without receiving anti-rabies vaccine.

Rabies is a viral disease that can be passed from an animal to a human through biting or clawing. Rabies cases in the country often spike during vacation when children spend more time outside.

Victims of rabies usually get infected following a bite or a scratch from a rabid stray dog or cat on the street.

“Siyempre kapag bakasyon iyong mga bata, wala na sa eskwela, naglalaro maghapon, naglalaro sa kalye and then dito talaga tayo nagkakroon na dumadami ang cases ng nakakagat ng aso (Of course, during vacation, they are no longer in school. They will mostly play all afternoon. This is when cases of animal bite rise),” Domingo said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that 40 percent of people bitten by suspect rabid animals are children under 15 years of age.

Condeno’s daughter, who is only 11 months old, did not experience any fever and appears to be in stable condition.

“May nagsabi nga sa akin na pa-injectionan siya, pero tinignan ko naman medyo mababaw, kaya naman na hindi siya nilagnat (Someone told me to get her vaccinated but I checked and the wound is not that deep. She did not experience any fever),” she adds.

The DOH said vaccination is a must because cleaning or using alternative medicines will not be enough to prevent the virus.

“Hindi pa rin tayo nakakasigurado siyempre, kailangan pa rin natin iyong anti-bodies na lalaban sa rabies (We cannot be sure, we still need the anti-bodies to fight rabies),” Domingo said.

However, the Health department laments the lack of supply of anti-rabies vaccine in the country.

In April last year, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that supplies of human anti-rabies vaccines across the globe are contaminated.

With this, Domingo urges everyone to be more careful especially with children who has an open wound.

They can also suffer from rabies if they were licked by an animal without anti-rabies vaccine.

“We are asking everybody to be extra careful kasi talagang mayroon pa tayong shortage ng ating anti- rabies vaccines sa humans sa buong mundo (We are asking everybody to be extra careful because there is a global shortage of human anti-rabies vaccines),” he said. —Aileen Cerrudo (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

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