The vaccination scare
Published by the Visayan Daily Star
Editor-in-Chief & President
Bureau Chief, Dumaguete
MAJA P. DELY
|CARLOS ANTONIO L. LEONARDIA
The Department of Health has finally declared that the deadly vaccination scare, characterized by Filipino parents’ aversion to having their children vaccinated due to the Dengvaxia scare, is finally over.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said vaccine coverage for children 6 to 59 months old has recovered to 94 percent which is close to the DOH target of a 95 percent vaccination rate in order to achieve “herd immunity.”
Duque admitted that the challenge still remains for the DOH, as the inoculation of students from kindergarten to Grade 7 remains low. It is merely at 12 percent for children 6 to 11 years old and 22 percent for those aged 12 and above. He is, however, hopeful that the DOH will be able to muster the resources and will to deploy the vaccination program more comprehensively in schools, citing the plan to vaccinate 9.9 million student from June to September. Planned vaccination programs for schools include measles, tetanus, diphtheria and cervical cancer.
The DOH blamed the measles outbreak it declared nationwide in February on the drop of immunization rates due to the controversy that hounded the dengue vaccination program. This controversy was and still is being used by certain personalities to advance their own agenda and while the ensuing drop in confidence in vaccination has resulted in the outbreak, government has done nothing to rein the public officials who have been undermining its own vaccination programs and causing outbreaks with thousands of confirmed cases and multiple deaths.
Now that the DOH has declared the vaccination scare over, it can hopefully get back to its job of protecting the Filipino people from vaccine-preventable diseases; a job that it had been performing reasonably well before scaremongers were allowed to plant seeds of doubt and panic while the rest of government inexplicably did nothing.
Hopefully, our Department of Health can repair the damage wrought by the scaremongers, reverse the trend, and restore Filipinos’ faith in the science of vaccination as soon as possible, so it can focus on other more pressing public health concerns instead of wasting time and resources on matters that it had already considered addressed, before the vaccination scare derailed its efforts.*