Editorial: Measures to improve immunization

WITH the re-emergence of polio and the recent rise of dengue cases, health agencies are working double to ensure children are vaccinated not only against those two but also other diseases as well.

Since the Dengvaxia scare two years ago, health agencies have noted a drop in parents bringing their children to the health centers to get vaccinated. Coupled with this scare are anti-vaccine sentiments being shared by some online.

In Davao City, one of the strategies the local government unit is looking at is the crafting of a policy that will mandate parents in the city to immunize their children through vaccination.

In a SunStar Davao story by Ralph Lawrence Llemit on October 11, CHO technical division chief Dr. Julinda Acosta said they are coordinating with Councilor Mary Joselle Villafuerte in crafting the ordinance.

However, she also clarified that the ordinance will not have any penal clause, hence, its goal is to encourage more parents to have their children immunized especially with the ongoing poliovirus outbreak in the country.

"If dili gihapon sila musugot (nga bakunahan ilang mga anak), we will still try our best nga ma-convince sila (If the parents won't still be convinced in having their children vaccinated, we would still continue exerting our efforts until they would finally be convinced)," Acosta said.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health (DOH) has recently ramped up its information and education campaign on diseases and why there is a need to get vaccinations. We have seen the detailed infographics on the diseases and why one should get a vaccination.

To encourage families to have their children below five years old get a polio vaccine, DOH kicked off a massive synchronized polio vaccination Monday, October 14, dubbed as Sabayang Patak Kontra Polio.

"Let us exert greater effort to overcome the challenges our country is facing today over vaccine-preventable diseases. Let us strengthen our partnership, utilize all possible initiatives to accelerate the eradication of these vaccine-preventable diseases. Let us all take part in this Sabayang Patak Kontra Polio and ensure that no child is left behind," DOH-Davao Regional Director Annabelle Yumang said.

While we commend the actions of the health agencies in coming up with strategies to improve the immunization status of the country or the city, we are hopeful that they will also come up with innovative ways to educate the public on vaccination. One that would make information closer and more accessible to the general public.

It would also be great if there is better access on scientific studies on the vaccine that will be used. Access to this information will allow some parents to read up more on the vaccine that is used and at the same time provide them with some sort of reassurance.

It would also be great if the government will be more transparent on the vaccines it will use. For example, the government can make available on its website the vaccines it is using to combat different diseases.

Parents getting their children vaccinated in the Philippines have dropped in numbers due to scares and misinformation. With a better information strategy, health agencies may be able to increase the number of children being vaccinated. For parents who are afraid, there is little to fear. Vaccines for many diseases have been proven and tested in recent years, which is a testament that most vaccines being used nowadays are safe.


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