DOH to vaccinate 9 million schoolchildren
MANILA, Philippines – In an effort to have children catch up on missed vaccinations, the Department of Health (DOH) relaunched its school-based immunization program on Wednesday, July 3, targeting to vaccinate some 9 million public school students nationwide.
In a speech, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III appealed to parents and caregivers to have children avail of free vaccinations offered in public schools against life-threatening diseases.
"Let us be very clear about the public health and extreme importance of vaccination – this is a cornerstone of universal health care.... Huwag po tayong dumating sa panahon na magsisisi tayo dahil namatay 'yung isang o dalawang anak (Let's not get to the point where we'll have regrets because one or two of our children died)," Duque said.
"Makonsensiya po tayo. Ang buhay ng ating mga anak nasa ating kamay (Let's have a conscience. The lives of our children are in our hands)," he added.
The DOH's school-based immunization program for 2019 aims to vaccinate students from kindergarten to Grade 7 with the measles and rubella vaccine. Students from Grades 1 to 7 will also be given booster doses of tetanus-diphtheria vaccines.
Duque said only students with parental consent will be vaccinated. All students will also undergo a quick health assessment and review of their immunization status against measles.
Why this matters: The school-based immunization program comes after the DOH declared a measles outbreak in February 2019. Nearly 5 months since it was declared, the outbreak status has yet to be lifted.
Duque earlier said the DOH would only declare the outbreak over once the vaccination coverage target of 95% is reached. Majority of the target – which translates to some 13 million people – includes 9,913,032 school-aged children.
Reaching the target would translate to herd immunity, where people who already have measles will be "walled off" from the rest of the population.
The DOH earlier declared measles outbreaks in Metro Manila, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Western Visayas, and Central Visayas, but cases have been recorded all over the country. (READ: EXPLAINER: When should one get vaccinated against measles?)
The DOH's school-based immunization program started in June 2019 and will run until September 2019. – Rappler.com