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LIST: 10 must-have vaccines for all ages

“Don’t say ‘saka na lang.’ We can control diseases through timely vaccination,” said Dr. Cecilia Montalban, president of the Philippine Foundation for Vaccination and a part of the National Immunization Technological Advisory Group of the World Health Organization. Philstar.com/File

MANILA, Philippines — If you can buy expensive gadgets and gifts, why not put life-saving vaccines on your Christmas list?

“It’s about setting priorities. You can’t buy a vaccine, but you have the money for gowns, iPhone, etc.? What’s life without health, if everything you save will just go to the doctor?” said pediatrician Dr. Cecilia Montalban, president of the Philippine Foundation for Vaccination (PFV) and a part of the National Immunization Technological Advisory Group of the World Health Organization.

To shed light on recent controversies like the dengue vaccine that can reportedly increase one’s risk of getting dengue, the PFV and Mommy Mundo recently came together to help address these concerns and educate mothers on proactive family prevention through a discussion called "Mom Protect."

“We don’t only need vaccines for infants. Vaccination should be from womb to tomb – all throughout our lives,” said Montalban.

Dr. Cecilia Montalban, President of the Philippine Foundation for Vaccination (PFV) and a part of the National Immunization Technological Advisory Group of the World Health Organization. Philstar.com/Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo

The doctor said that due to social media, there are a lot of fake news circulating about vaccines. “It feels so sad that for example, when it comes to dengue vaccines, a lot of misinformation came from the doctors,” Montalban alleged.

“We have outbreaks because of the misinformation and myths like measles vaccines cause autism. The doctor who came up with this myth has been debarred.”

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To avoid fake news, Montalban suggested asking for advice only from physicians who specialize in vaccinology. Specialists in this field, she said, even take their master’s degree on the subject.

The Department of Health, she said, also has a lot of in-house experts who work there free of charge.

The doctor said the Philippines has always been pointed as a source because the country has not met its quota in getting a sample of its population vaccinated to contain a disease. For instance, the measles outbreak in US Disneyland had allegedly originated from the Philippines.

Not all vaccines are available in the Philippines but can be procured through diplomatic means like antitoxins from France and the United States, said the doctor.

Why do we need vaccines?

Screenshot of the slide presentation by Dr. Cecilia Montalban. Philstar.com/Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo

For TV host and mom Lyn Ching, vaccines are a mom’s way to protect their kids even if they are not with them.

According to Montalban, vaccinations are needed because:

  • No amount of antibiotics can neutralize toxins
  • If you do not have a spleen, encapsulated medicines cannot be processed by your body, so you need to get vaccinated.
  • No one medicine can address all strains of a disease.
  • Antibiotics only kill bacteria, not viruses. An anti-viral is high-dose and expensive.
  • Due to climate change, rainy season is now all-year-round, and so are vector-borne diseases like dengue since mosquitoes breed the most when it rains.
  • Vaccines are needed to strengthen the immune system. Many illnesses are asymptomatic and usually, humans just fight them off with their immune system, just like in a viral infection like dengue.
  • To fully contain a disease, “cocooning” should be made, which means everyone around a patient should be vaccinated.
  • There are diseases like tetanus that humans do not develop antibodies from once they had it because these diseases are from lethal toxins.
  • Diseases like flu cannot be contained by just using tissue and alcohol.
  • Because of vaccines, the use of dextrose fluids is becoming rarer.

10 diseases humans need vaccines for

Immunization chart. Screenshot of the slide presentation by Dr. Cecilia Montalban. Philstar.com/Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo

Montalban said that diseases might have evolved, but because of technology, so did vaccines that protect humans from the following diseases.

Diphtheria

Screenshot of the slide presentation by Dr. Cecilia Montalban. Philstar.com/Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo

Pertussis (Whooping cough)

Screenshot of the slide presentation by Dr. Cecilia Montalban. Philstar.com/Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo

Montalban recommended immunization for moms to protect their kids from whooping cough. The vaccine can also boost a newborn’s immunity.

If a baby survives whooping cough, he or she grows up without antibodies.

The doctor also prescribed a booster for those 10 years old and above. In general, her recommendation is to have a an anti-whooping cough vaccine every 10 years throughout one’s lifetime.

Tetanus

Screenshot of the slide presentation by Dr. Cecilia Montalban. Philstar.com/Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo

This disease, said Montalban, usually comes from cutting the umbilical cord with an unhygienic tool.

Tetanus thrives in areas without air, so the baby’s navel should be left to dry in open air once umbilical cord has been cut, said the doctor.

“Though tetanus is not communicable, it is also in the water, soil and air, it’s everywhere so you need to get vaccinated (as protection from it). It does not only come from nails,” Montalban expounded.

She said it is a myth that the tetanus vaccine has a contraceptive that can kill an unborn child.

Despite its name, neonatal tetanus is something anyone of any age can acquire, but the doctor said among those who have a high risk of getting it are the very young and the very old ones.

Polio

Screenshot of the slide presentation by Dr. Cecilia Montalban. Philstar.com/Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo

Most countries are already polio-free except from Pakistan and Nigeria, said Montalban.

Influenza

Screenshot of the slide presentation by Dr. Cecilia Montalban. Philstar.com/Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo

People might call think flu is common, but the doctor reminded to never take it for granted as it can cause pneumonia and death. Diarrhea is also a flu symptom.

“You must have your yearly flu vaccine because the flu virus shifts. In the Philippines, you should have your vaccine before it rains because flu gets highly infectious before the rainy days,” the doctor warned.

Malls and schools, she said, are where influenza transmits the easiest. She said the escalator handrail is specifically full of the virus.

Screenshot of the slide presentation by Dr. Cecilia Montalban. Philstar.com/Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo

Measles

Screenshot of the slide presentation by Dr. Cecilia Montalban. Philstar.com/Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo

Mumps

Screenshot of the slide presentation by Dr. Cecilia Montalban. Philstar.com/Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo

Rubella (German Measles)

Screenshot of the slide presentation by Dr. Cecilia Montalban. Philstar.com/Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo

This can manifest as allergy but could be dangerous if it inflicts a pregnant woman, said Dr. Montalban.

Screenshot of the slide presentation by Dr. Cecilia Montalban. Philstar.com/Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo

Japanese Encephalitis

Screenshot of the slide presentation by Dr. Cecilia Montalban. Philstar.com/Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo

Most cases of this disease have been reported in central Luzon because mosquitoes thrive in rice paddies, said the doctor.

Her studies show that around 50 percent of the cases lead to death, while the other 50 percent that survive are left with disabilities. But unfortunately, “only the Philippines has no program for this even if the entire Philippines is endemic for this,” the doctor claimed.

She recommended two doses of vaccination for those nine months to 17 years old and one dose for those 18 years old and above.

Screenshot of the slide presentation by Dr. Cecilia Montalban. Philstar.com/Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo

Hepatitis B

Montalban considers the anti-Hepa B vaccine as the first one against cancer, in particular, liver cancer.

She said the immunization should be given upon birth because it cannot infect the baby in utero. If the baby does get infected after birth, the baby gets a 25 percent risk of developing liver cancer.

Screenshot of the slide presentation by Dr. Cecilia Montalban. Philstar.com/Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo

Prevention is cheaper than cure

Screenshot of the slide presentation by Dr. Cecilia Montalban. Philstar.com/Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo

In the Filipino culture, especially this Christmas, there are plenty of “mano” and “beso,” which might be signs of respect but are also means to spread diseases.

Thus, while Montalban does not discourage doing these, she said that if there is a Filipino custom that should be forgotten it should be “saka na lang,” especially when it comes to vaccination.

“Don’t say ‘saka na lang.’ We can control diseases through timely vaccination,” she ensured, stressing the fact that disease prevention through immunization is always cheaper than hospitalization.

Screenshot of the slide presentation by Dr. Cecilia Montalban. Philstar.com/Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo

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