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LCP, MSD advocate for vaccine confidence




Mayors and medical experts discuss the importance of vaccine amid the spread of the coronavirus disease in the country. PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF MSD

Committed to maintain high immunization rates across all age groups to protect the population and cognizant of the need to ensure public health and safety, the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) with the support of health care company MSD in the Philippines organized a webinar forum on 18 September dubbed “Bakunado Protektado: Restoring Vaccination Confidence Program in Cities.”

Attended by city mayors and city health officers across the Philippines, the webinar discussed current health updates in immunization, safety guidelines and best practices in order to continue providing immunization services to the community in the new normal.

“Vaccine confidence in the Philippines dropped from 93 percent to only 32 percent. We hope that this program of restoring vaccine confidence in our communities will go beyond the webinar” said LCP national president and Bacolod City Mayor Evelio “Bing” Leonardia.

“This vaccine confidence effort will be a stepping stone to solving this COVID-19 pandemic,” he added.

Vaccination is one of the effective forms of prevention and an integral part of public health. In fact, immunization is the cornerstone of resilient health systems and universal health coverage because of its efficacy rate and cost-effectiveness.

To emphasize the value of vaccination, Dr. Anna Ong-Lim, Professor and chief at the Division of Infectious and Tropical Disease in Pediatrics, College of Medicine-Philippine General Hospital University of the Philippines-Manila, shared insights on the role of immunization in combatting infectious diseases.

“Vaccine is an efficient public health tool that helps healthy people to stay healthy and prevent the spread of diseases in the community,” Ong-Lim said. “When we talk about infectious diseases, vaccination remains the most efficient way of protecting the largest sector of the country.”

Some of the immunization programs of the government through the Department of Health (DoH) and local government units (LGU) are protecting Filipinos against pneumonia, measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, diphtheria, human papillomavirus (HPV) and polio among others.

Building vaccine confidence is integral in the overall success of routine immunization programs.

In light of the coronavirus disease (COVID 19) pandemic, health care professionals underscore the importance of providing preventive health care services to the community.

“We are facing the COVID-19 pandemic, as we are aware, this fight is far from over. Our health care system is already burdened,” said Dr. Monrey Isaiah Mancilla, National Immunization and Child Health program manager of the Department of Health-Region V.

“We are facing the COVID-19 pandemic, as we are aware, this fight is far from over. Our health care system is already burdened. We cannot afford to have another outbreak on top of the existing outbreak. The best way to approach this context is to make sure that all members of the community are healthy and immunization is a key component to ensure the health not only of one’s self but the whole society,” Mancilla added.

Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal, on the other hand, shared health care good practices that they implemented to ensure provisions of routine vaccination while mobilizing frontliners to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 in their city.

“The response of LGU Legazpi (to COVID) did not leave out the regular health programs. The importance of immunization like polio vaccine,” Rosal said. “In times of trouble, the system should be in place and majority of the people will play a key role.”

Part of Legazpi City’s strategy was ensuring that there is enough budget allotted for health care programs and according to Rosal, prior to the pandemic, the city increased the number of health care workers from 500 to 700.

At the onset of the pandemic, these health care workers were divided into two groups. One is a public health programs team devoted to providing basic health care programs to the community while second, there is a COVID-19 response team assigned in isolation and quarantine areas.