Press Release
July 23, 2020

Plunging immunization rates need booster shot from Rody and Leni

The Expanded Program of Immunization has a budget of P7.5 billion this year, to cover about 12 million individuals, from infants to seniors.

As of end of June 2020, only 2.8 million individuals, not even one-fourth of the target, have been vaccinated. That is the sad halftime score.

With communities locked down, schools closed, transportation disrupted, this essential national program is clearly a coronavirus casualty.

And any catch-up program is hampered by the closure of where those who are to be vaccinated largely congregate - schools. Distance learning is possible, but online immunization is not.

But we can still rally from our national deficit through a massive information program. If there is one lesson that can be gleaned from successful mass vaccination drives, it is this: You have to inform before you can inject.

Perhaps the President and the Vice President can do a joint PSA—a public service announcement—that will promote this life saving program. It is a PSA that is a PDA—public display of affection for children and seniors.

The need for high-profile endorsers is needed to arrest the plunge in vaccination levels. Even before this pandemic struck, the Philippine immunization compliance has been going down.

BCG, from 93 percent in 2008 to 75 percent in 2019. DPT, from 94 to 79 percent. Polio, from 91 to 77 percent. Measles from 92 percent, down to 73 percent.

The scorecard this year so far points to a slippage that must be overcome.

Of the 2.12 million children under one year of age who must receive the full array of vaccines *, only 332,000 were fully immunized by the end of March this year, or a mere 1 in 7.

Of the 8.6 million school children up for immunization**, only 2.458 million have been vaccinated per latest data from the DOH, or 3 out of 10.

This year's immunization program also covers senior citizens, about 1.285 million of them slated to receive influenza and pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPV23).

If there is one lesson that this pandemic has reaffirmed, it is that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.


*Vaccines for infants from 0-12 months old:
i. 1 dose of Bacillus Calmette Guerin (BCG) and 1 dose of Hepa B at birth;
ii. 3 doses of Diphtheria and Tetanus Toxoid (DPT) - Haemophilus Influenza (HiB) - Hepa B (Pentavalent); iii. 3 doses of Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV);
iv. 3 doses of Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV);
v. 1 dose of Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV); and
vi. 2 doses of Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR).

**Delivery of catch-up and booster dose of vaccine for children in school (Kinder to Grade 7). The following vaccines are given:
i. Measles-Rubella (MR) and Tetanus Diphtheria (Td) for Grade 1;
ii. Human Papillomavirus (HPV) for Grade IV female, 9-14 y/o; and
iii. Measles-Rubella (MR) and Tetanus Diphtheria (Td) for Grade 7.

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