MANILA – The Philippines is among a number of countries with a high number of unvaccinated children, according to a World Health Organization officer on Monday.
Dr. Robert Kezaala, a medical officer of vaccine preventable diseases and immunization of WHO in the Philippines, disclosed the information during the launch of a 10-day catch-up immunization in Taguig City.
“Philippines is one of the 10 countries with the most number of unvaccinated children in the whole world. That is why we are working very hard with Philippines to make sure that we have these kinds of vaccination to make sure that Philippines gets a coverage of over 80 or 90 percent,” he said.
A UNICEF report in July said that globally, 25 million children have missed out on one or more doses of a diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (DTP) vaccine in 2021. This is two million more than the number who missed out in 2020 and six million more than in 2019.
“The decline was due to many factors including an increased number of children living in conflict and fragile settings where immunization access is often challenging, increased misinformation and COVID-19 related issues such as service and supply chain disruptions, resource diversion to response efforts, and containment measures that limited immunization service access and availability,” the report read.
It said that “18 million of the 25 million children did not receive a single dose of DTP during the year, the vast majority of whom live in low- and middle-income countries, with India, Nigeria, Indonesia, Ethiopia and the Philippines recording the highest numbers.”
The Philippines' health department has set a target of 95 percent for fully-immunized children. However, the country has only achieved 34 percent. In the National Capital Region, 46 percent of children are considered fully-immunized.
Health authorities point to the pandemic and mobility restrictions, especially for children, as the primary reason for low vaccination coverage among children.
But with COVID-19 restrictions now eased in the country, the DOH appeals to parents to have their children vaccinated against various vaccine preventable diseases.
“Wala pong rason para tayo ay matakot dito sa mga bakunang ibinibigay natin kasi dekada na po ito na pinpapamigay worldwide. Any disease na pag ang causes niya napabayaan at andoon, magkakaroon talaga ng increase in the number of cases,” DOH Metro Manila Center for Health Development Director Dr. Gloria Balboa said.
This is why for parent Elizabeth Tijas, her child’s wails from receiving three jabs for different diseases, is something she is willing to endure. After giving birth to her child almost two years ago, she hasn’t received any vaccine apart from those given at birth.
“Hindi ko siya naano kasi pandemic yun eh. Hindi ko siya napunta sa (health) center. Paano pag walang pera, walang pambiling gamot. Mahirap talaga. Hindi mo maisip kung saan ka kukuha ng pang ano sa kanila. Kaya mas naano po ako na pabakunahan ang anak,” Tijas said.
The DOH Metro Manila CHD’s intensive catch-up immunization runs from Nov. 7 to 18 where over 137,000 children are targeted to receive different vaccines.