DOH launches ‘Chikiting Bakunation Days’ to immunize 1 million kids

Aiming to reach at least one million children who have yet to receive any routine vaccine, the Department of Health (DOH) on Monday, April 26, launched an annual vaccination drive that will run every last week of the months of April to June 2022 nationwide.

A child getting vaccinated against COVID-19 during the rollout of pediatric vaccination in SM Aura. (Ali Vicoy/ Manila Bulletin)

The DOH said more than half of the vaccine-eligible children born during the Covid-19 pandemic – around 1.4 million children – have not had a single vaccine.

With the "Chikiting Bakunation Days", the health department will administer vaccines against polio, measles, hepatitis B, pneumonia, and other vaccine-preventable diseases (VPDs). It will run every last week of the months of April to June 2022 nationwide.

Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III said they want to replicate the success of the COVID-19 National Vaccination Drives (NVDs) for routine childhood vaccinations, saying such is to “help improve immunization coverage among the pediatric population.”

“With the help of our stakeholders, we can ensure that vaccines are available, sufficient, and accessible to our local health facilities and communities. Together, we shall stop not only COVID-19 but also other potential vaccine-preventable diseases and outbreaks,” he said in a statement.

In launching the inoculation drive, the health department partnered with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

The WHO and UNICEF have vowed to give resources in vaccine management, research, and planning at a regional and national level as a step in preventing outbreaks in countries with an alarming decline in vaccination coverage.

“To reach every child with life-saving vaccines, we need investments in planning and monitoring, human resources, and targeted support for LGUs that are lagging behind,” Oyunsaikhan Dendevnorov, the representative of UNICEF to the Philippines, noted.

“We stand together to make Chikiting Bakunation Days a success for children, and we commend the DOH for the initiative in taking the action in protecting the children,” she added.

Meanwhile, WHO and UNICEF called on local leaders and health authorities to make vaccines for children more accessible.

Areas with low vaccination rates and areas prone to outbreaks must receive comprehensive support to enable them to organize regular outreach services, the agencies recommended.

Dr. Rajendra Yadav, acting WHO representative to the Philippines, noted that vaccines bring people closer to a world where future generations are protected from disease outbreaks and epidemics.

“We are making vital progress against today’s biggest health challenges, but we must ensure everyone, everywhere can benefit. Vaccines give everyone the opportunity to reach their full potential and pursue a life well-lived,” he said.

According to the DOH, even before the pandemic, the Philippines was among the top 10 countries in the world that constitute a great number of under-vaccinated or unvaccinated children.

The “Chikiting Bakunation Days” was launched during World Immunization Week, which is celebrated from April 24 to 30.