By Charissa Luci-Atienza
House Deputy Speaker Pia S. Cayetano appealed to national leaders Sunday to stop trading blame over the measles outbreak and focus on restoring of Filipino mothers' trust in the government's vaccination program.
Vaccines are pictured next to patients inside the Health Center in Baseco Compound, Manila, February 8, 2018. (CZAR DANCEL / MANILA BULLETIN)
The principal author and sponsor of the Mandatory Infants and Children Immunization Act or Republic Act 10152 cited the urgent need to end the “general feeling of distrust” among parents towards the government’s mandatory immunization program.
“Right now, the most important message - the only message - that we need to be hearing from everyone is to assure the mothers. Kumbinsihin ang mga nanay na magpabakuna ng mga anak,” Cayetano said over the weekend in a media interview in La Trinidad, Benguet.
“As we are talking, habang nagtuturuan tayo, habang nagdedebate tayo, namamatay ang mga baby,” she said.
She said the mothers should be given the "sense of confidence" that their children should be vaccinated.
Citing a study made by the Vaccine Confidence Project at the London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, Cayetano noted that in 2018, only 20 percent of Filipinos agreed to the safety and effectiveness of vaccines, significantly lower than the 80 percent recorded in 2015.
“Ibig sabihin, four in five mothers takot? Mahirap ‘yun. We have to rebuild the trust… because so many illnesses na hindi na natin nae-experience ay may danger na bumalik,” she said.
She asked the Department of Health (DOH) and other concerned government agencies to initiate an effective information campaign to educate mothers and families of the benefits of vaccinating their children.
She said the Filipinos' better access to information could help end the vaccine scare.
“Bakit natin iri-risk ‘yung buhay ng mga babies dahil sa misinformation or lack of knowledge? Nananawagan talaga ako, hindi lang sa mga nanay, kundi sa buong komunidad… Suportahan natin ang mga nanay para mabalik ang kumpyansa sa immunization,” Cayetano said.