A sorority in the University of the Philippines College of Medicine, to emphasize the critical role of immunization in preventing vaccine-preventable diseases, has organized a webinar series titled “Immunization in the Time of Pandemia.”
The webinar, organized by the UPCM Mu Sigma Phi Medical Society, aims to give importance to immunization from vaccine-preventable diseases as the UPCM - Mu Sigma Phi Medical
Sorority continues to crusade for its advocacy of promoting individual and community health.
In a statement, the sorority said the immunization discussions were part of the COVIDgilance Webinar Series and in partnership with the sorority’s “Dr. Salvacion R. Gatchalian Memorial Webinar Lecture Series.”
The COVIDgilance lectures hope to inform the whole community regarding coronavirus and ways on how to prevent its spread most especially among the immunocompromised population (i.e. infants, pregnant women, elderly, people with chronic illnesses, etc.). COVIDgilance also aims to address the rampant spread of fake news and misinformation by promoting to the Filipino community an educational campaign to help end this war on COVID-19, the sorority said.
In “Balik Tiwala, Balik Bakuna” – Debunking Vaccination Myths Around the COVID-19 Pandemic, the first webinar of this series, infectious disease specialist and head of the PGH – Hospital Infection Control Unit Dr. Regina Berba discussed how vaccines kick start the production of antibodies to fight off infection and the significance of the childhood immunization series and flu and pneumonia shots in our adult lives.
Berba expounded on the complications of each vaccine-preventable disease, including infections associated with high morbidity/mortality (pneumococcal pneumonia) and potential cancer-associated viral infections (Hepatitis B and HPV).
Vaccines save lives, as evidenced by the eradication of smallpox in the ‘80s, as well as provide a collective social benefit through high vaccination coverage (also known as herd immunity).
Yet there are several persisting myths and fake news surrounding immunization that discredits its effectiveness and necessity – leading to vaccine hesitancy.
She emphasized that without immunization, outbreaks can happen which also have significant direct and indirect costs to the economy such as consultation and hospitalization fees, absenteeism, and lost productivity.
“There was a time in our history when smallpox was a significant threat to the whole world. It was estimated by as much as half a billion people may have died from this illness” she said.
“And soon as more and more got vaccinated, in time, it was declared by WHO to have been eradicated. So this is something we are looking forward to in the development of the COVID vaccine. We have to believe in the science that vaccines work and they work by averting a lot of illnesses.”
Berba assured the public that vaccines were safe, that there was no scientific evidence where it causes autism, and vaccine overdose was not possible.
She also recommended to parents to get several vaccines administered at once to maximize their clinic visit during the pandemic and to follow the catch-up schedule in case one misses a dose, with a reminder to follow safety protocols.