SAVE THE FUTURE: A CAMPAIGN TO BEAT VACCINATION HESITANCY
Medical experts say children should be immunized to protect them from diseases. (Photo courtesy of Loraine Ocampo)
MANILA --Loraine Ocampo, a mother of three kids, says her trust in vaccines has never wavered amid the issues hounding the now-aborted Dengvaxia program because she believes that vaccines work.
"Bilang isang nurse, napag-aralan namin kung para saan ang vaccine. Hinahanda ang katawan mo sa mga possible diseases na puwede mo ma-encounter in the future, para pag na-expose ka sa microbe na iyon, mare-recognize ng body na 'yung (As a nurse, we've studied about vaccine's purpose. It prepares your body for possible diseases so when you're exposed to the microbe, your body will recognize that it is the) pathogen," Ocampo told Philippine News Agency (PNA) in an interview.
Her three children have been vaccinated in health centers – following her mother’s example who had them vaccinated in health centers when they were kids to save money.
"Kung libre naman, bakit pa ako gagastos di ba? Hindi ako natatakot na mapabakunahan mga anak ko, mas natatakot ako na magkasakit sila ng hindi handa ang katawan nila (If we can get vaccines for free, why spend money right? I'm not scared to have my children vaccinated, I'm more scared about them getting sick and their bodies not prepared)," she said.
Health officials attributed the rising number of measles cases to vaccine hesitancy -- the delay in the acceptance or the refusal of vaccines despite availability of vaccination services -- among others.
Ocampo said barangay health workers go on a house-to-house campaign to educate parents about vaccines and its benefits, especially for children.
"Ang mga tao ngayon kasi ay puro duda kaya walang nangyayari. Naging student-nurse ako at kasama namin ang mga barangay health workers nagbabahay-bahay para magpaliwanag (People nowadays have a lot of doubts so nothing happens. I was a student-nurse before and together with barangay health workers we go house to house to explain) about diseases and vaccines and until now I see that they [health workers] still do that," she said.
(Photo by Andrea Pascual , OJT/ PNA)
Bringing back the trust in immunization
In a recent press briefing, Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines (PIDSP) president Anna Lisa Ong-Lim said medical societies must shift their focus from educating the public to addressing people's trust issues on immunization.
"Dapat maibalik ito, ang tiwala ng ating mamamayan sa mga programa ng (It must be brought back, the citizen's trust on the programs of) Department of Health (DOH) and the efforts of professional medical societies should be is to support DOH, encourage our population to also trust the department," she said.
Ong-Lim added the PIDSP and the Philippine Pediatric Society (PDS) conducted a review if they could lower the recommended immunization age from nine months to six months old when DOH announced the measles outbreak.
PDS president Salvacion Gatchalian, who was also in the press briefing, said their members started activities to help the local health centers and municipal health officers achieve the target number of children to be vaccinated to address the outbreak.
DOH Epidemiology Bureau records show that there were 11,459 measles cases recorded from some regions in the country as of January 1 to February 21 this year.
It reported a total of 189 deaths. Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon (Calabarzon Region) logged the most number of deaths at 61. It was followed by the National Capital Region with 52 deaths, Central Luzon with 25 deaths and Eastern Visayas with 16 deaths.
Meanwhile, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the department, in coordination with other government agencies, the Philippine Red Cross and other medical societies, is doing its best to bring back birth immunity nationwide to 95 percent.
"So, this is where we are and hopefully we see a reverse of the outbreak trend, but it is not going to happen soon it may probably take another four to six weeks. I think about first week of April," he said.
Duque added around 462,000 children or 30 percent of the population in the NCR has been vaccinated, adding that vaccination hesitancy level nationwide is slowly going down.
The PIDSP launched last week (Feb. 21) the Save the Future campaign with the aim to address the vaccination hesitancy which led to the measles outbreak in the country with the help of medical societies.
Ocampo said she hopes that health workers and government officials won't get tired of reaching out to doubtful mothers.
"Nakapag-duty ako sa mga health centers, at alam ko maayos ang gamot at handling nito. It's nice to see na nagkakatulungan ang gobyerno at private sector sa pagsugpo ng measles outbreak pero iyong no vaccination, no enrolment, sa tingin ko ay malabong solusyon(I was on duty in a health centers before, and I know that medicine and handling in it is good. It's nice to see that the government and private sector are working together to stop measles the measles outbreak but the no vaccination, no enrolment, I think is not a clear solution)," she said. (With reports from Andrea Pascual, OJT/ PNA)