MANILA - The Philippine Medical Association (PMA) on Thursday expressed concern on the supposedly declining immunization rates among children aged 2 and below due to the COVID-19 pandemic that limited the mobility of people.
PMA President Dr. Benito Atienza said the association is currently looking to coordinate with the Philippine Pediatric Society to boost vaccinations among infants and toddlers.
“Ang partnership natin, tutulong pa rin tayo sa ibang concerns during this pandemic. Kasi yung isang concern natin, bumababa ang pagbabakuna natin during this COVID pandemic, yung time po, ang pagbabakuna among 0-2 [years old]," Atienza said.
(Our partnership aims to address other concerns during this pandemic. One of the concern we raised was the decrease in vaccination among children aged 2 and below.)
"Ibig sabihin, marami pa tayong mga bata na hindi pa nababakunahan dahil buhat sa katagalan ng pandemic, yung mga batang pinanganak noong 2020, 2021, ay magtu-two years old na po yan.”
(We have a lot of children unvaccinated yet because of the pandemic. Those born in 2020 and 2021 are turning 2 years old already.)
The medical group plans to launch a "catch-up" vaccination for the said age group, most especially those who have yet to get immunized in the past 2 years amid the health crisis, he said.
Atienza said clinics of PMA members may be used to administer primary immunizations for unvaccinated children.
The PMA recently extended their support to the national government to ramp up the country’s COVID-19 vaccine roll out by administering jabs in private doctor’s clinics.
“So, ginawa natin iyong mga istratehiya na gaya ng pag-house-to-house, pagpunta sa mga opisina, pagpunta sa mga mall at botika. Ngayon, pati sa doctor's clinic,” said Dr. Ted Herbosa, National Task Force Against COVID-19 adviser.
(To boost vaccination, our strategy is to go house-to-house, offices, clinics, malls and doctors' clinics.)
According to the health department in March 2021, some 800,000 Filipinos aged 5 years old below are still unvaccinated from measles, rubella, and polio in target regions.
From October 2020 to March 2021, some 6.1 million children have been inoculated against polio, while 8.5 million children have also received their measles and rubella jabs.
The Department of Health, in a statement posted December last year, said the number of fully-immunized infants and children is 3.9 percent lower in 2020 compared to 2019, "as many parents are hesitant to bring their children to health centers for fear of exposing them to COVID-19."
Nearly half a million Filipino children in 2020 missed their oral polio drops for routine immunization due to the pandemic, the agency said.