The Department of Health (DOH) has stepped-up its immunization programs to increase coverage rate of the Fully-Immunized Child (FIC).

With the aim of further increasing FIC, the DOH launched in October the “Community-based and Catch-up Routine Immunization” campaign to address accessibility challenges to routine vaccination caused by the pandemic. The 2020 FIC data shows that the immunization coverage among infants and children is 3.9% lower than the coverage rate in 2019 as many parents are hesitant to bring their children to health centers for fear of exposing them to COVID-19.

“DOH is committed to protecting every child against vaccine-preventable diseases. We are continuously looking for ways to improve access to our National Immunization Program. One of these is coordinating with the National Vaccine Operations Center to dedicate days to catch-up immunization and the community-based Measles-Rubella and Tetanus-Diphtheria (MR-Td) Immunization activities,” said Dr. Beverly Lorraine Ho, Director of the DOH-Health Promotion Bureau.

Currently, barangays are dedicating Wednesdays for child vaccination. Health workers on COVID-19 vaccination program were shifted to child immunization for the “Bakuna Wednesday” program on top of other immunization services in barangay health centers and other primary care facilities.

The DOH has also released Guidelines on the Conduct of Catch-Up of Routine Immunization for Children to aid in the identification of children who missed their routine immunization, implementation of the catch-up immunization activity, recording and reporting of accomplishments, and monitoring and supervision of all activities. It also details the different roles and responsibilities of concerned offices and stakeholders.

DOH also released an interim policy to provide technical directions in the implementation of the supposed School-based Immunization (SBI) services in the community-setting for School Year (SY) 2021.

“This COVID-19 pandemic has shown us how valuable vaccines are. We should keep ourselves and our children up to date with vaccinations.  Diseases can spread quickly with dreadful consequences without the protection of vaccines.  Let’s protect our babies and children from acquiring 13 vaccine-preventable diseases. Go to your nearest health center for a free child vaccination,” said Dir. Ho.