By Analou De Vera
Health experts once again highlighted the importance of vaccination in battling vaccine-preventable diseases as the country works to dispel the public’s hesitancy over vaccines.
“This hesitancy threatens to reverse the progress made in conquering vaccine-preventable diseases. Hence, the resulting decline in immunization that brought about the measles outbreak,” said Dr. Jose Santiago Jr, president of Philippine Medical Association (PMA) during the “Vaccination and Its Public Health Impact” summit in Quezon City Thursday.
Dr. Lulu Bravo, executive director of Philippine Foundation for Vaccination (PFV), said that no child should die from vaccine-preventable diseases.
“It is unthinkable for any children to suffer from these diseases that are, in the first place, preventable,” she said.
“We believe that everyone, young and adult, alike should be given the equal chance of being protected from these diseases that threaten to take away their future,” she added.
Measles outbreak has been declared by the Department of Health (DOH) in some regions in the country. Measles can be prevented by a vaccine.
Latest data from the DOH showed that 13, 723 measles cases have already been recorded as of February 26. This include 215 deaths.
“Unfortunately, we are now in a time where vaccine confidence has waned,” said Dr. Anna Lisa Ong-Lim, president of Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines.
“Unfortunately, this is a natural history of vaccine, where we see the disease, there is a desire to be protected; once you don’t see the disease, people get complacent,” added Ong-Lim.
“Nakakalungkot na kailangan pang mangyari itong outbreak, marami pang mamatay bago pa magsibalikan yung ating mga pasyente sa mga local health centers to access the public health programs,” she furthered.
[It is saddening that it needed an outbreak to happen before patients decide to go back to health centers and access the public health programs.]
Ong-Lim said that healthcare workers should reassure the population that vaccines are safe interventions against vaccine-preventable diseases.
She added that vaccines are a way to actually train the immune system for a “quick and effective” protective response; and that it protects not just only the individual but also the community.