The Department of Health has reiterated its call to parents to take part in its upcoming measles and polio vaccination campaign that is set to start next week.
DoH Secretary Francisco Duque III said that the protection of children against vaccine preventable diseases is equally important during the time of COVID-19 pandemic.
“We should be vigilant about other diseases that can affect some of our most vulnerable like infants and children, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. The child’s first five years are very formative to his or her health,” said Duque.
“The illnesses we are vaccinating them against can be very damaging and will have repercussions on their growth and maturity. That is why we are urging parents not to take these conditions lightly, but must vaccinate their children as soon as possible,” he added.
The government’s immunization campaign will be rolled out in two phases. Phase 1 will be conducted from Oct. 26 to Nov. 25 in Mindanao, Cordillera Administrative Region, Ilocos region, Cagayan Valley, MIMAROPA (Region 4-B), and Bicol region. Phase 2 will be conducted in February 2021 in Visayas, National Capital Region, Central Luzon, and Calabarzon (Region 4-A).
Children from nine- to 59-months-old will be given measles-rubella vaccine while those zero- to 59-months-old will be provided with oral polio vaccine, the DoH said.
Duque said that these vaccines have been proven safe for the past decades. “No child should have to suffer because of them, especially because the vaccines are free,” he added.
“We understand their fears of getting infected with COVID-19 if they go to our clinics to have their children vaccinated. But we have committed ourselves to safety and the clinics will be making sure that health protocols are followed by healthcare workers and patients alike.”
The Philippine Pediatric Society (PPS) also urged parents not to delay their children’s vaccination against these diseases.
Vaccination is one of the most effective methods of preventing infectious diseases, said PPS board member Dr. Anna Lisa Ong-Lim.
“Very important na maalala ng mga magulang na kahit sa panahon ng pandemya kailangan pa rin maibigay sa tamang edad and sa tamang schedule ang mga bakuna na nakalaan sa mga bata, particularly those under one-years-old and also those who are under five (It is very important for parents to remember that even during the pandemic, those vaccines intended for children should given at the right age and on the right schedule, particularly for those under one years old and also those who are under five),” said Lim.
“Although lahat tayo nakatuon ang pansin sa pag-iwas sa COVID, huwag din naman natin kakalimutan na nandyaan pa rin yung ibang mikrobyo, naghahantay lang iyan ng pagkakataon magsamantala kung binigyan natin ng puwang (Although we are all focused on avoiding COVID-19, let us not forget that other microbes are still present, they are just waiting for the opportunity to take advantage once we become complacent),” she added.
Lim urged parents to coordinate with their respective local health officials to know the details of the vaccination program.