The Department of Health (DOH), the Pharmaceutical and Hospital Association of the Philippines (PHAP), the Philippine Medical Association (PMA) and Philippine Foundation for Vaccination (PFV) today streamed the seventh installment of Health Connect Series in celebration of the 2021 World Immunization Week. Organized by PHAP, the Health Connect aims to keep the media and the public informed on important and relevant health issues amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the 2021 World Immunization Week’s theme “Vaccines bring us closer”, the DOH called on the medical community and private sector to partner in building a strong and resilient immunization program to ensure that lives are protected so that families and communities can be together again.
“Vaccines bring us closer to a world where no one suffers or dies from a vaccine-preventable disease. So in this year’s activities for World Immunization Week, we want to focus on routine immunization, especially the children who missed their doses during the pandemic. As COVID-19 continues to challenge access to essential health services, the need to provide people with life-saving vaccines becomes all the more critical,” explained National Immunization Program Manager Dr. Kim Patrick Tejano.
In his presentation, Dr. Tejano highlighted the importance of improving vaccine coverage for vaccine-preventable diseases that continue to threaten the lives of children. The fear of people from transmitting COVID-19 when outside their houses, alongside redeployment of our health workers to respond to pandemic notably affected the immunization uptake, from 69% in 2019 to 62% in 2020. The Health Department is working towards reversing these figures. “The DOH has safety protocols in place to minimize risk of transmitting COVID-19 while continuing the immunization drive against vaccine-preventable diseases like polio and measles,” he assured.
Dr. Samuele Anton Quizon of the DOH Health Promotion Bureau highlighted the role of local governments and organized communities, and emphasized the importance of providing an enabling and supportive environment for people to make health-supportive decisions, including the choice to get vaccinated. To better guide the local decision makers in addressing various concerns during vaccination campaigns, the DOH developed the Health Promotion Playbook on Bakuna Champions to support and empower local social mobilizers that are trained to address vaccine hesitancy. “The Department of Health’s immunization program will only be truly victorious if the public trusts in vaccines, which have already been proven in containing or limiting outbreaks of infectious diseases,” said Quizon.
On the other hand, the Philippine Pediatric Society (PPS) lauded the efforts of the DOH in their efforts to intensify routine immunization. PPS President Joselyn Eusebio urged parents not to delay their children’s immunization schedule. “One fully immunized child is a step towards a healthier community. We support the DOH in leading a strong collaboration of parents, caregivers, and local leaders to protect more lives against vaccine-preventable diseases,” Eusebio remarked.
theAsianparent Philippines General Manager and BakuNanay Founder Frances Ang welcomed the efforts of DOH and acknowledged her fellow BakuNanays in creating a safe space to discuss vaccines and other health topics. “We founded BakuNanay because we love our children and believe that vaccines will protect them from diseases. We want to be able to offer our children a healthy start to life so that they can be whomever they want to be when they grow up. We want to encourage all moms and caregivers to spread love and show care for their children by having them vaccinated,” explained Ang.
“The Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines and its Members fully support the Department of Health in its initiatives to conduct a nationwide mass immunization campaign despite the challenges of the pandemic,” stated PHAP Executive Director Teodoro Padilla. “As a private sector partner representing the people who develop the vaccines, we stand side by side with the government, our medical community and various organizations in helping protect the people and children from vaccine-preventable diseases. PHAP remains committed to research and development of needed vaccines, and to partner with the DOH, Philippine Medical Association, Philippine Foundation for Vaccination and our advocates so that vaccines could finally bring us closer once again.”