By Analou De Vera
The Department of Health (DOH) believes that the scare brought by the Dengvaxia vaccine controversy is now over, citing the public’s increased confidence in vaccines.
“Yes. I really would like to believe the Dengvaxia scare is over,” said Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Wednesday.
Duque based his statement in the result of a survey which he said was commissioned by the Malacanang. One of the topics of the survey was about vaccine confidence.
“Three matrix were used. One was ‘are the vaccines effective?’ to which the respondents said I think about 94 percent said it is effective; second matrix ‘is the vaccine safe?’ to which the respondents, 89 percent, believes that the vaccines are safe; And (third matrix) whether if it is of [good] quality 91, percent,” he said.
“So you look at this, this reflects a turnaround of vaccine confidence and reduction in vaccine hesitation,” he added.
Previously, the DOH said that the public’s confidence level in vaccines went down to 32 percent due to the Dengvaxia controversy.
Duque also noted that after the DOH declared measles outbreak in some areas last February, the number of children getting immunized has already increased.
The health chief noted that the number of children aged six to 59 months old getting measles vaccines has already reached 98 percent coverage.
Meanwhile, immunization coverage in other age groups is still not that high.
He said that measles vaccine coverage among kindergarten to Grade 7 students is at 12 percent; while children aged 12 years old and above is at 22 percent.
“School-based immunization is a strategy for reaching older children and adolescents,” he said.
The school-based immunization program was piloted in 2013. This year, it aims to provide all public school learners enrolled in Kindergarten to Grade 7 an opportunity to receive measles and rubella vaccines.
The program will also provide booster doses of tetanus-diphtheria to Grade 1 and 7 learners nationwide.
Duque stressed that “only learners with parental consent will be vaccinated after a quick health assessment and evaluation of their immunization status against measles.”
The program will be until September 2019.
“Let us provide our children the much-needed protection against disease. Vaccination works,” said the health chief.