Press Release
April 29, 2020

Pia's reminder: COVID should not disrupt children's immunization

The country could not afford to have an outbreak of another illness while it continues to deal with COVID-19.

Thus said Senator Pia S. Cayetano, as she reminded parents to make sure that their young children are vaccinated as scheduled to protect them from diseases and boost their immune system.

"I reiterate my reminder to fellow parents about the importance of having our kids vaccinated, even during this health crisis," said Cayetano, principal author and sponsor of the Mandatory Infants and Children Health Immunization Act (RA No. 10152).

"We want to make sure that we do not have another outbreak of diseases like measles and polio, which can be prevented through vaccination," she added.

Citing a statement by the World Health Organization (WHO) in line with this year's World Immunization Week, Cayetano said disrupting immunization services could trigger "a resurgence of diseases that can be prevented with safe and effective vaccines," which will further overwhelm our health systems already battling COVID-19.

The Department of Health (DOH) issued a similar statement, informing the general public that they can still have their children immunized despite the community quarantines. Through its Department Memorandum No. 2020-0150, the agency issued interim guidelines for immunization services during the pandemic.

This includes maintaining routine immunization for newborns and infants up to 12 months and selective catch-up vaccinations of "defaulters" under 5 years old, provided that the immunization activities have undergone a risk assessment and infection and prevention control equipment are used.

"In instances where routine immunization is temporarily suspended [following the risk assessment], healthcare workers shall maintain [a] list of children who have missed their vaccinations and active catch-up immunization activities shall be implemented as quickly as possible, once the COVID-19 situation permits," the memorandum read.

The agency also encouraged private clinics to continue immunization efforts, as long as they observe proper protocols on physical distancing and strictly adhere to infection prevention and control.

Meanwhile, Cayetano also raised the need to prioritize other health issues such as maternal and infant care, stressing that women and children are among the most vulnerable in this time of health crisis, and should therefore continue to have access to proper healthcare services whenever necessary.

In the recommendations which the Senate transmitted to the President following the latter's weekly report to Congress, Cayetano urged the DOH to provide clear protocols on maternal care and childbirth during the pandemic.

"We need to keep reminding people, particularly our national agencies and local government units, to continue promoting proper maternal and infant care. We cannot afford to forget about these other health issues that have always been there. Otherwise, we will go back to zero in terms of basic healthcare," she stressed.

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