Manila Health Department chief Dr. Arnold Pangan said the city would enlist the help of the national government and popular celebrities to convince mothers to have their children vaccinated.
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Pangan issued the statement after a Health department official said in a TV interview that about 11 percent of mothers refuse to have their children immunized.
“The mothers were saying that they don’t need it,” Health Assistant Secretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told ABS-CBN News.
“It has been reported ever since 2016 that a lot of mothers are refusing vaccination,” she said.
The Manila City government, in partnership with the DOH, launched a mass polio immunization program on Aug. 19 to intensify efforts to prevent the disease.
At present, Pangan said the percentage of children who have been immunized is at a low 55 percent.
The Philippines has been declared polio-free since 2000 but was recently considered at “high-risk” due to low vaccination. An outbreak was declared on Sept.19 after two cases of polio were confirmed.
Vergeire said children up to five years old must be given the polio vaccine.
“We are going to provide immunization irrespective of their immunization status. It has no side effects, no bad taste for this oral polio vaccine. It is safe and has been used ever since the 1970s,” she said.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III called on parents to ensure that their children receive the complete dose of all recommended vaccines in their first year of life.
Apart from the measles and poliomyelitis outbreaks that have been declared by the DOH, Duque said parents must equally protect their infants and young children from other vaccine-preventable diseases such as diphtheria, pertussis
(or whooping cough), and tetanus through immunization.
Cases of diphtheria and other infectious diseases are being monitored
by the Epidemiology Bureau regularly.
From January 2019—September 2019, there have been 167 cases and 40 deaths compared to 122 cases and 30 deaths cases in the same period in 2018. The reasons for the trend are being investigated.
Aside from heightened immunization, the anti-toxin for diphtheria is available in the country, through the assistance of the World Health Organization.
Antibiotics for diphtheria, namely penicillin, erythromycin, clarithromycin, and azithromycin, are locally and commercially available.
“Now more than ever, the importance of protecting our infants and children from vaccine-preventable diseases remains paramount,” Duque said.
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