April 29, 2023 People's Journal 253 views

THE country’s coverage for vaccine-preventable diseases (VPDs) among children is below 60 percent with the ongoing pandemic as the primary culprit.

In Kapihan media forum on Friday, Philippine General Hospital-Department of Pediatrics Infectious and Tropical Disease Section chief Dr. Anna Ong-Lim said the Philippines is one of the countries with the least number of children who have received or completed their routine immunization.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the most common VPDs include chickenpox, diphtheria, flu, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type B), human papillomavirus, measles, meningococcal, mumps, pertussis, pneumococcal diseases, polio, rotavirus, rubella and tetanus.

These diseases are the common causes of hospitalization and deaths among children worldwide.

To achieve herd immunity, Ong-Lim said the country’s target is to vaccinate 90 percent of the children against these diseases.

“Only 47 percent were vaccinated with BCG for tuberculosis, only 57 percent complete the three doses of vaccines against Hepatitis B, fewer were given birth dose against Hepatitis B which is 39 percent only,” she said.

“Those who completed 5-in-1 vaccines and polio vaccines have not reached 60 percent.”

As for the vaccination against diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus (DPT), the Philippines is also one of the countries with children completely unvaccinated in 2020.

Ong-Lim explained the drop in immunization coverage is not exclusive to the Philippines as it was observed worldwide due to the pandemic.
Apart from the Philippines, the 17 million children who are unprotected against DPT are from Angola, Brazil, Dominican Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Pakistan and Nigeria.

The global immunization coverage dropped from 86 percent in 2019 to 81 percent in 2021.

In the same year, the number of completely unvaccinated children increased by 5 million since 2019.

“Ngayong patapos na tayo sa pandemya, magkaroon tayo ng pagtutok sa mga sakit na hindi naman nawala (Now that were nearing the end of the pandemic, let us focus on these diseases which have always been there),” Ong-Lim said.

She encouraged parents and guardians to have their children, especially those ages 0 to 59 months old, vaccinated in the nearest health centers as the jabs are provided for free.

The WHO launched World Immunization Day from April 24 to 30 to find and vaccinate children who missed immunization that help protect them from illnesses, disabilities and death. Philippine News Agency