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LOOK: Manila, Pasig governments welcome 'Back to Bakuna' immunization program

MANILA, Philippines – Two of Metro Manila’s new mayors welcomed the Department of Health’s (DOH) “Back to Bakuna” school-based immunization program on Tuesday, July 16, and declared their commitment to strengthen child immunization coverage in their respective localities.

On a gloomy Tuesday morning, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno joined Health Secretary Francisco Duque III as the health chief, along with other health officials, administered shots of measles and diphtheria vaccines to some 100 grade 7 students of Ramon Magsaysay High School in Manila. (EXPLAINER: When should one get vaccinated against measles?)

ADMINSTERING SHOTS. Manila Mayor Isko Moreno joins Health secretary Francisco Duque III in administering shots of measles and diphtheria vaccines to grade 7 students of Ramon Magsaysay High School in Manila on July 16, 2019. Photo by Inoue Jaena/Rappler

ADMINSTERING SHOTS. Manila Mayor Isko Moreno joins Health secretary Francisco Duque III in administering shots of measles and diphtheria vaccines to grade 7 students of Ramon Magsaysay High School in Manila on July 16, 2019.

Photo by Inoue Jaena/Rappler

Later in the afternoon, Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto joined the health chief and other health officials who gave the same shots to some 500 students in Pasig Elementary School.   

Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III administers a measles vaccine to a student during the school-based immunization campaign attended by local official led by city Mayor Vico Sotto and Representative Roman Romulo at the Pasig Elementary School on July 16, 2019. Photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III administers a measles vaccine to a student during the school-based immunization campaign attended by local official led by city Mayor Vico Sotto and Representative Roman Romulo at the Pasig Elementary School on July 16, 2019.

Photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

The health department’s school-based immunization program aims to provide free shots of the measles and rubella vaccines to public school students from kindergarten to Grade 7, and booster doses of tetanus-diphtheria vaccines for public school students from Grade 1 to 7. It aims to vaccinate some 9 million public school students nationwide by September 2019. 

Since the program was launched on July 3 in Taguig City's Signal Village National High School, the health department has vaccinated some 70,000 students with shots for measles, diphtheria, and rubella. Among these thousands are a number of female grade 4 students who have been given vaccine shots against human papillomavirus, which causes cervical cancer.

Health chief Duque, hounded by the effects of the Dengvaxia scare from the previous year, addressed parents and students both in Manila and Pasig, urging them to get their children vaccinated and assuring them that vaccines work. (READ: A year after Dengvaxia: Immunization drops, measles outbreaks soar)

Moreno and Sotto also shared their plans for improving health conditions in their respective cities.  

Moreno, on his part, said he would institutionalize the Nutribun program, a Marcos-era feeding initiative funded by the US government. Though discontinued nationwide by 1997, it was revived in Manila by Moreno’s predecessor, Joseph Estrada, in 2014.  

He also promised to improve health facilities in the city, starting with the construction of a new Ospital ng Maynila building, right next to where the current structure stands. He also vowed to redesign public health centers and buy new ambulances for the city.

Sotto, on the other hand, said he would make sure that Pasig City does its part to implement the Universal Health Care Law in the city. He promised to do this by improving the capacities of barangay health centers, in terms of equipment, medicine, and health care staff. – Rappler.com