(Yearender) DOH expands its immunization programs through 'school-based immunization'

January 3, 2016 7:33 am 

By Leilani S. Junio

MANILA, Dec. 28 (PNA) — The Department of Health (DOH) took significant steps in bringing its immunization program not only in the health centers but also in the public schools through the “school-based immunization” program that it launched in 2015.

“One of the accomplishments that we can say is the agency’s taking-off in terms of immunization. We do not only cover babies from birth to one year of age. Now, we already have 'school-based immunization',” DOH Secretary Janette L. Garin said in an interview.

She explained that with the school-based immunization, the government, through the DOH, has been able to start giving free booster doses to students of vaccines to prevent such illnesses as measles, diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis.

The program started in August of this year as the agency partnered with the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) so that school children such as grade 1 and grade 7 in public schools would be provided with such vaccines.

With the involvement of DepEd, the DOH got a helping hand because the teachers were also involved in the dissemination of information regarding the benefits of the vaccines among the parents and students.

Involvement of DILG, on the other hand, was also a big factor because of DILG's help in spreading through the local government unit (LGU) leaders the importance of availing of said vaccines as protection from vaccine-preventable illnesses so that children will be healthier and prepared to be future productive citizens.

“The DepEd is like our twin brother/sister that provides us the venue to implement our program. The DILG can help in overseeing that the policies that we have set forth will be fully implemented,” the Health Chief said.

“The importance of this is that our government is now providing two booster doses for the illnesses that affect our school children…," Dr. Garin said.

Booster doses are needed to ensure that higher levels of protections are maintained.

Secretary Garin said the agency has also started vaccination of human papilloma virus (HPV) among adolescent girls (9 to 13 years old) against cervical cancer in the rural health units (RHUs) of the identified 20 poorest provinces.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended the HPV vaccination of girls at the said age because that is the time that they are not yet sexually active.

The DOH Chief also said they have also fixed the pneumonia vaccination system for senior citizens to avoid duplication and incidence of reminiscing them.

“The pneumonia vaccine is now being given only to senior citizens who are 60 and 65 years old. The vaccine is given in two doses and five years apart. That will give the senior citizen lifetime immunity [against pneumonia],” she said.

She added that as an ideal way to ensure that the senior citizens automatically get the vaccines, they set the said ages making use of the birthday of the elders as the reference point.

For 2016, under its approved budget of PhP123 billion, the DOH will be continuing the same immunization programs to cover more infants, adolescents and senior citizens as an "investment on the health of the said sectors" under the goal of providing access to every Filipino to health care services through the Universal Health Care (UHC) program agenda of the Aquino government. (PNA)

SCS/LSJ

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