Youth tapped to boost vaccine confidence, bridge health information gaps

With many Filipinos adults still wary of getting vaccinated in general, private and public organizations partnered and tapped the support of the youth to boost vaccine confidence and share other related health information with the public.

Youth Health Patrol is a health literacy campaign for public schools which aims to help build a healthier Philippines (Screenshot Youth Health Patrol Awards Facebook page)

Through a campaign dubbed as “Youth Health Patrol,” various elementary and high school students in 22 public schools across the National Capital Region, Calabarzon (Region IV-A) and Northern Mindanao (Region 10) took to social media their thoughts in an effort to increase confidence in vaccines especially during the pandemic.

“Youth Health Patrol” is a health literacy campaign for public schools facilitated by the Campaign on Character Education Tenacity Program (CaCHET) by the Alalay sa Pamilya at Bayan Foundation (APB).

The campaign is also in partnership with the Department of Education (DepEd), University of Asia & Pacific (UA&P) I AM STRONG and supported by Sanofi Pasteur Inc.

Overall, the campaign aims to help build a healthier Philippines by promoting a healthy lifestyle among young Filipinos, empowering the youth to become health advocates within their own communities and addressing health information gaps and misconceptions by providing reliable and relevant information.

As the Philippines continues to grapple with coronavirus disease (COVID-19), a recent Social Weather Station (SWS) survey revealed that 33 percent of Filipinos are unwilling to get vaccinated while 35 percent expressed uncertainty about vaccination.

Given this, the organizers recognize the need to engage and empower children particularly during this crucial time.

Youth Health Patrol Awards 2021

Department of Health (DOH) Director for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and Control Bureau Dr. Beverly Ho highlighted the role of young people in improving the health of Filipinos.

“Health is more than a visit to the doctor’s office or the hospital. It begins where we work, live, and play,” Ho said.

Through “Youth Health Patrol,” students were able to showcase their creativity and resourcefulness through posted videos, pictures, memes, infographics and other materials on Facebook, garnering hundreds of positive engagements in their respective communities.

In May, the “Youth Health Patrol” campaign concluded with the awarding of the Grand Prizes to Bagong Silang Elementary School CND2 and Bayabas National High School, based on criteria that includes Audience Engagement, Creativity, Message Clarity, Credibility of Sources Used, and Campaign Objectives attained.

Youth Patrol Awards winner Elementary category (Screenshot Youth Health Patrol Awards Facebook page)

Youth Patrol Awards winner High School category (Screenshot Youth Health Patrol Awards Facebook page)

Other schools that made it to the top ten include: Congress Elementary School (2nd Prize) and Camarin D. Elementary School (3rd Prize). Meanwhile, Andres Bonifacio Elementary School and Carmona Elementary School received honorable mentions for the elementary school category.

For the high school category finalists were Kalayaan National High School (2nd Prize) and Caybiga High School (3rd Prize).

Aplaya National High School - Annex and Nagpayong High school both received honorable mentions for the high school category.

Special awards for Best TikTok video and Best Infographic were also given to Highway Hills Integrated School and Camp Vicente Lim Integrated School, respectively.

Ho, who chaired the panel of judges for the finals, said that it has been encouraging to see how the Youth Health Patrollers have become enthusiastic health advocates in their homes and among their peers.

“We hope you continue spreading the right health information and practicing good health habits,” she added during a virtual event.

Meanwhile, Sanofi Pasteur Philippines General Manager Dr. Jean-Antoine Zinsou praised the students for their “active participation and impressive output.”

He also commended them for overcoming the challenges of community restrictions and limitations of their own resources. “The passion and dedication of these students to their respective community health campaigns are truly a cause for celebration,” Zinsou said.

Zinsou added that the posts of these students are “proof that while we continue to face unprecedented challenges, there is also unprecedented potential in our children and young people.”

Likewise, Zinsou explained that health literacy efforts like “Youth Health Patrol” help build a better, healthier Philippines for future generations. “We remain committed to supporting and guiding the health advocacy endeavors of our young people,” he added.