AS DENGVAXIA SCARE RECEDES: Health dep’t aims to recover immunization rate in schools

Dr. Renilyn Reyes, medical officer IV of DOH-CHD 6 (Photo Courtesy: Iloilo City Government)

By: Emme Rose Santiagudo

A YEAR after the Dengvaxia controversy hampered the immunization program of the government, the Department of Health-Center for Health Development in Region 6 (DOH-CHD-6) hoped to regain the trust of the parents and increase the coverage of its school-based immunization program in the region.

For 2019, the health department targets to immunize against measles 290,602 Kinder and Grade 1 to 7 pupils in the region.

Dr. Renilyn Reyes, medical officer IV of DOH-CHD 6 said that they will only be vaccinating students who have not received immunization during the recent measles outbreak response.

Pilion ang wala maimmunize sa measles and kung na-immunize sila indi na sila pagbakunahan liwat,” she said.

In February, a measles outbreak was declared in the region due to rising cases.

While the number is now decreasing, Reyes said only Health Secretary Francisco Duque III can lift the outbreak declaration.

Aside from measles vaccine, the school-based immunization program will also target Grade 1 and Grade 7 student for Tetanus-Diptheria Vaccine and Grade 4 female students for the Human Papillomavirus Vaccine (HPV) for cervical cancer.

“We are also targeting 67, 038 Grade 4 female students, aged nine to 14 years old. They will be receiving the first of the two doses of the HPV. The second dose will be administered after six months,” Reyes explained.

Reyes underscored the need for school-based immunization program among local government units (LGUs) to control measles cases in the region.

“In order to sustain nga indi na magbalik ang measles outbreak in the region in Iloilo City, ang himuon sang LGUs is to conduct school-based immunization this July up to September,” she said.

She also appealed for the LGUs to help spread awareness and understanding on the importance of vaccination on children.

“Together buligan naton paintindihun kung ano ang matuod sa vaccination. Pabalo naton sa mga ginikanan nga ang bakuna tama ka importante. It has been there for years so guaranteed that our vaccines are safe, effective, and free,” Reyes stressed.

The immunization coverage of the health department slid down from 92 percent to 57 percent in 2018 following the Dengvaxia scare.