The Department of Health (DOH) has started utilizing creative ways to conduct immunization programs for babies to catch up with the 3.90% drop in immunization rate of infants in 2020, from 69.08 percent in 2019 to 65.18 percent in 2020.

The ongoing pandemic has posed challenges for the DOH to implement the National Immunization Program (NIP) despite the vaccines being given for free in health centers.

“We understand that many families are still hesitant to bring their infants or children outside of their homes for immunization due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But we have to find ways to reach out to these children to prevent them from life-threatening diseases that could be prevented with these vaccines,” said Dr. Beverly Lorraine Ho, concurrent Director of the Health Promotion Bureau and the Disease Prevention and Control Bureau of the DOH.

These 14 vaccines are crucial to prevent Filipino across life stages from acquiring life-threatening diseases such as infant tuberculosis, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B, haemophilus influenzae type B, polio, pneumococcal infections, influenza, measles, mumps, rubella, and human papillomavirus (HPV).

The DOH trained health workers to convince parents to bring their children to health centers or designated temporary vaccinated posts. 

“It is very important to make parents understand that failure to vaccinate may mean putting their children at risk for serious and sometimes fatal diseases but at the same time, assure them that our vaccination procedures right now follow strict safety protocols,” said Dr. Ho.

DOH has been implementing innovations in its intensified catch-up and community-based immunization campaigns. Modified fixed posts or open and spacious areas where people can go and bring their child for their vaccination have been made available to the public. Another is mobile vaccination where DOH brings vaccination services closer to communities especially in far flung or geographically isolated areas by using small vehicles like tricycles and even boats to provide immunization services to those areas.

The third innovative approach is the door-to-door vaccination where the vaccines are given in households so the infant does not need to go outside. But this is only applicable in certain areas due to some local government restrictions.