By Genalyn Kabiling
The government is not inclined to enforce a mandatory immunization of children despite the recent outbreak of measles in Metro Manila and other provinces, according to a Palace official.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the government would instead intensify the information campaign about the vaccination program to encourage parents to get their children vaccinated to combat diseases.
“Hindi naman siguro kailangan ‘yan. I think baka ma-question pa ‘yan sa korte somehow [That may not be necessary. I think it may even be questioned before the courts.],” Nograles said during a news conference at the Palace when asked about the possibility of a mandatory vaccination program.
“All we need to do is step up the drive, the Department of Health has to step up its drive and involve the local government units,” he added.
He recognized the important role of the local government units in terms of “action” and “accountability” in implementing the vaccination program in the communities.
He said the health department is also expected to work closely with the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) in raising public awareness about the importance of vaccines to ensure public health.
“With regard to the government’s immunization program under the DOH, the DOH has been directed to boost communication efforts on the importance of vaccination, with the active involvement of government media entities like the PCOO,” he said.
Asked if the President was disappointed with the DOH’s efforts to promote the immunization program, Nograles said he did not get the sense of dismay from Duterte during the recent Cabinet meeting.
He noted that the latest public discourse about the vaccines was actually helping raise awareness about the importance of the program.
The President earlier ordered a vigorous campaign to promote the complete immunization for children. Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said Duterte was saddened by the measles outbreak and directed the health department to address the situation immediately.
Duterte earlier urged parents not to let the Dengvaxia controversy stop them from having their children vaccinated to fight diseases. He expressed concern on the drop in the number of vaccinated children amid the fear arising from the alleged bungled implementation of the anti-dengue vaccine program.