The Department of Health (DOH), together with Johnson & Johnson (Philippines), Inc. (J&J Philippines), University of the Philippines – Manila College of Public Health (UPM CPH), and SEAMEO TROPMED PH forged a partnership to scale up vaccination efforts through a webinar entitled “Kahalagahan sa Pagtutuloy ng Bakuna Para sa Healthy Pilipinas”.

“Through the webinar, we hope that we will be effective instruments for vital information to reach the public, in the hope that this will help us achieve a healthier Pilipinas, free from disease through the tried and tested disease and prevention strategy called immunization,” opened Dr. Vicente Belizario Jr., dean and center director of UPM CPH and SEAMEO TROPMED.

In previous years, the DOH has been focused on sharing information about vaccines for children. This year, groups have been looking forward to echoing vaccination against vaccine-preventable diseases – especially to children and the elderly.

“The COVID-19 pandemic ushered an increase in susceptible children who have not received routine immunizations due to prioritization of COVID-19 services, and even more challenges with the quarantine restrictions in the country. The DOH dedicated Bakuna Wednesdays and tied-up delivery services with external stakeholders, as well as reaching people through house-to-house efforts. The DOH has also implemented Chikiting Bakunation Days, which is a routine and catch-up immunization conducted every last Thursday and Friday of April, May, and June,” said Dr. Kim Patrick Tejano, Program Manager of the National Immunization Program.

Vaccine hesitancy and misinformation regarding vaccines were recognized as part of the top 10 public health challenges in the last two years. This phenomenon has fueled global outbreaks of previously controlled vaccine preventable diseases like measles and polio. With the help of partnerships between the public and private sectors, incremental progress in delivering vaccine campaigns, providing communities with basic healthcare necessities and administering vaccines were observed.

“We hope that the hesitancy in the country will be decreased through the information we pro-actively disseminate everyday and through our campaigns to reach many localities in the country as vaccination is very vital in preventing possible outbreaks. We hope that we can also attain an increased number of vaccinations for COVID-19 in the country so we can continue to safeguard our fellow Filipinos,” said Dr. Erwin Benedicto, Head of Medical Affairs of J&J Philippines.

“The pandemic has greatly affected the lives of many individuals, and that included some children who missed their immunizations. With that, the DOH reassures that we are conducting programs to provide vaccines not only to our youth and the elderly – but to anyone needing protection as we believe that no Juan or Juana should be left unprotected not only from COVID-19 but also from vaccine-preventable diseases,” added Undersecretary Maria Rosario Singh-Vergeire.