Health And Family

Rebuilding the public’s confidence: Save lives, get vaccinated

Ritz L. Ignacio - Philstar.com
Rebuilding the publicâs confidence: Save lives, get vaccinated
A health worker administers the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to an individual at FilOil Flying V Center on May 12, 2021.
The STAR/Michael Varcas, file

MANILA, Philippines — We are close enough to believe that the events on our surrounding feels like watching a movie---a light comes off and regrets came in. We could have prevented it all through a routine childhood immunization we might have missed, but experts say, you just need to “catch-up”.

Filipinos are being encouraged by the health experts to take their necessary jabs to prevent diseases related to the outbreaks. Amid the pandemic, parents should prioritize protecting their children from different virus since they are also susceptible.

Physician Fatima Gimenez, an infectious disease consultant and the vice president of Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines (PIDSP), urged parents and caregivers to get their children vaccinated rather than delayed, if any chance they missed; they will need to “catch-up”.

According to her, to identify a child as fully vaccinated in the basis of local government units (LGUs), there is a need to take these following vaccines:

  • One dose of Bacillus or Bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG).
  • Three doses of 5in1.
  • Three doses of Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV).
  • Plus, one dose of the Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV) on the third together with the OPV.
  • Two doses of measles, mumps and rubella vaccines at nine and 12 months.
  • Three doses of Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV).

But it doesn’t end here, Gimenez emphasized. In every child there are some would be needing boosters and recommended extra doses of vaccine that are not available in LGUs for their children.

“There are some conditions also of a child na ‘yung hindi kasing ‘immunocompromise’ that would be needing extra doses of other protective vaccines kasi nga vulnerable siya doon sa mga ibang mga sakit,” the pediatrician told Philstar.com and other media during the webinar last week.

“Let’s say hepatitis A [and] influenza shot, wala ‘yun sa mga LGU. So ‘yung  nangyayari kapag tinatanong na, [people] have to be very careful kasi at certain ages [they] would be needing that boosters of certain antigens,” she added.

Meanwhile, for those people with proper assessment who needed to “catch-up”, there are inactivated vaccines which only need a boost that people usually take twice in a lifetime, from them people could get.  

To raise the immunization rates, Gimenez shared that there are campaigns initiated by PIDSD, Philippine Pediatric Society and Philippine Foundation for Vaccination, in the joint project “childhood immunization schedule” that recommends vaccine for children.

These three health organizations, that have already had a strong advocacy on vaccination, offer a comprehensive list and explanations about different vaccines that are available in the national immunization program.

The root cause of vaccination hesitancy

However, all these efforts are minimized and blockade by the history of careful handling in vaccine hesitancy in the country. It drives people from refusing or delaying their vaccine although there are free services provided by the local government units and there are free consultations launched.

“Complacency, convenience and confidence” towards the healthcare system are major factors that put the citizens from hesitancy, as stated by Gimenez.

The Dengvaxia controversy placed the public in great fear that the vaccine may take an effect with other vaccines which will take in and the issue was not addressed.

But even before the situation happened, Gimenez said the coverage rate was already low due to the measles outbreak back in 2014, wherein it took place in Disneyland that traces the genomic.

According to Gimenez, even before the pandemic, the coverage rates are low that has built nothing but mistrust towards their confidence to the vaccines. And yet, the healthcare system is burdened in combatting fake news and misinformation towards the vaccines.

Combating Misinformation

The medical terms shall be “simplified, direct to the point” and accurately discussed to the public, Gimenez described.

The difference of infectious diseases that makes the people sick, identified as morbidity, and leads to fatal deaths. Meanwhile, the bacteria necessitate the use of antibiotic if there is bad infection that aims to be cured.

The pediatric infectious disease specialist explained that there are many kinds of viruses present every day, but some are “self-limiting” which means even without efforts, it will end. But then, she said that there is also an anti-viral which is like a flu that can be given influenza shots before getting the flu in order to shorten it.

When asked about her thoughts about people who get influenza vaccines during COVID-19 pandemic, she said “I’m glad na narerealize nila kasi ang symptoms ng influenza at ng COVID are very hard to separate.”

The COVID-19 itself could be prevented by 95% and gives 5% although it is very small, it is still a possibility of having the virus back so giving an extra health measures is still needed, Gimenez added.

“Fever, muscle pain, body ache, head ache, sipon. Very similar silang dalawa so mabuti na nagpapabakuna ang mga tao para hindi na madagdagan ang problema sa kasamaang palad na magkaroon ka ng COVID,” she said.

Call to action

According to Gimenez, everyone has a responsibility to look after their health and it is not only limited to the parents alone but includes the parents and adults as well in order to protect themselves.

She urged the public to give importance on taking periodic doses and boosters such as influenza. But then again, it will not be resolved by vaccine alone.

“There are certain needed vaccines that you need as an adult as well. It doesn’t stop when you’ve completed it as a child,” Gimenez said.

In regard with the COVID-19 vaccines, she discussed that vaccines that are available is a preventive measure that goes along with responsible wearing of mask, hand washing and following the health protocols.

“The only way kasi na we can stop the rising [COVID-19] cases is to have something form of protection and one of the ways to do that, hindi ko sinasabi na bakuna lang, but vaccination is one of the ways we can do that,” the infectious disease specialist said.

The following is the doctor’s advice that must be considered to live healthy and safe amid pandemic:

  • Tune in or log on to credible online sites.
  • Maximize the use of teleconsult.
  • If you have questions, ask only experts.
  • Cultivate a good relationship with health provider.
  • Get protected and get the advantage of vaccines.
  • If you are convinced that there is a protection of vaccine, might as well become an advocate.
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