DOH admits poor start for vaccination program

WITH an average of one in every 10 students getting vaccinated, the Department of Health (DOH) admitted Wednesday that its national immunization program for schoolchildren had a slow start.

DOH Secretary Janette Garin said they have been getting weak response from the public in terms of availing of the vaccines used to prevent measles and tetanus-diphtheria for Grade 1 students, and measles-rubella (MR) and tetanus-diphtheria (TD) for Grade 7.

u201cBy this time, we should have been at 50 percent already. Turns out, ni hindi tayo umabot ng 30 percent,” said Garin in a news conference.

Based on the latest report to the DOH, out of the 2.5 million Grade 1 students, only 199,426 (8 percent) have been vaccinated against measles, and 270,618 (11 percent) versus TD.

As for the 1.8 million Grade 7 students, the health department disclosed that only 191,792 (10 percent) were given MR vaccines, and 191,735 (10 percent) against TD.

The report showed that of the 17 regions, the National Capital Region, Caraga, Cagayan Valley, and Calabarzon did not have any immunized school children.

u201cIto pa naman yung mga regions kung saan, sa ming pagtataya, ay mataas ang bilang ng kailangang mabakunahan,” said Garin.

She clarified though that the immunization program is about to begin in Metro Manila.

Garin said the low turnout can be blamed on the hoax reports on the school-based deworming program of the government.

u201cThe deworming scare really affected our immunization program. Nagkaroon ng pangamba ang publiko lalo ang mga magulang,” Garin said.

Last month, reports said DOH distributed expired deworming tablets during the National School Deworming Day program after hundreds of students in Zamboanga Peninsula were rushed to hospitals after experiencing stomach aches.

The health department explained that such illnesses are usual side effects of deworming tablets, especially for those that hosts several soil-transmitted helminthiasis (STH).

Because of the low turnout, the DOH has extended the month-long immunization program to September.

u201cBut for those that will meet the target, hindi na ie-extend,” said Garin.

She also appealed to parents to allow their children to undergo the immunization program.

u201cThis is for the protection of your own children so they can avoid these illnesses,“ said Garin.

Children that are not in school are urged to pay a visit to the nearest health center in order to get vaccinated.

Garin stressed that all the vaccines being used by the health department have been certified by the World Health Organization (WHO) safe and effective and has a shelf-life of 18-24 months. (HDT/Sunnex)

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