Bong Go urges Filipino parents to support government’s vaccination drive against measles and pertussis

Bong Go urges Filipino parents to support government’s vaccination drive against measles and pertussis

AS Chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go has appealed to parents, urging them to support and cooperate with the government’s vaccination program aimed at protecting their children from diseases.

This comes amid reports of increasing measles cases in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), as well as the identification of pertussis outbreaks in the National Capital Region, including Taguig City and Quezon City, and other parts of the country like Iloilo City.

“Protecting our children’s health is a shared responsibility. Hinihikayat ko ang lahat ng mga magulang na suportahan ang mga inisyatibo sa pagbabakuna ng pamahalaan,” said Go.

“Sa pamamagitan ng pagtiyak na nakakatanggap ang ating mga anak ng kanilang mga bakuna sa tamang oras, maaari nating silang ilayo sa mga malubhang sakit tulad ng tigdas at pertussis,” he added.

Republic Act No. 10152, known as the “Mandatory Infants and Children Health Immunization Act of 2011”, mandates the provision of routine immunization services for infants and children up to five years of age, targeting diseases including pertussis and measles, among others.

Go also addressed concerns about vaccine hesitancy among parents, attributing it to misconceptions and fears of adverse effects.

“Let us trust our health experts and not allow fear to hinder our fight against these preventable diseases. Dapat nating gawing prayoridad ang kalusugan at kaligtasan ng ating mga anak,” he asserted.

The Department of Health (DOH) has launched a nonselective immunization drive in Mindanao in response to the measles outbreak in BARMM, aiming to vaccinate children in the affected areas without the need for vaccination history verification.

This measure seeks to expedite the immunization process and control the outbreak more efficiently. Undersecretary Eric Tayag reassured parents that the vaccine is safe, with no risk of overdose, for children aged six months to 10 years.

Moreover, the DOH has reported a resurgence of measles and pertussis cases nationwide, with over 2,600 measles cases and more than 453 cases of pertussis, including 35 deaths, in the first 10 weeks of the year.

Amid challenges, such as the delayed arrival of pertussis vaccines and the necessity of emergency purchases by local governments like Quezon City, the DOH raised alarms about the possible spread of pertussis infections to neighboring areas. They called for increased vigilance and the prompt reporting of any cases that may indicate the presence of the disease.

Meanwhile, Go emphasized the importance of utilizing Malasakit Centers for those affected and requiring medical assistance, highlighting these centers as a critical resource for Filipino families in need of medical care.

Go is the principal author and sponsor of Republic Act No. 11463 or the Malasakit Centers Act of 2019, which institutionalized the Malasakit Centers program to streamline access to medical assistance programs of various agencies for Filipinos particularly poor and indigent patients in public hospitals.

Currently, 161 Malasakit Centers are operational nationwide, poised to assist with patients’ medical expenses. The DOH reports that the Malasakit Center program has already provided aid to more than ten million Filipinos.

With a goal to further strengthen the health system, the senator filed Senate Bill No. 195 or the creation of a Center for Disease Control (CDC). If passed into law, CDC will serve as the country’s central hub for disease prevention, surveillance, and control, focusing on both infectious and non-communicable diseases.

Another key legislative measure from Go is SBN 196, which seeks to establish a Virology Science and Technology Institute. If enacted into law, the institute is envisioned as a center for virology that will enhance the country’s capacity to study, detect, and combat emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases and eventually have a capability to develop its own vaccines.

Earlier, Go reiterated his appeal for Filipinos to voluntarily wear masks, especially in public places saying,

“Tulad ng lagi kong payo, kung hindi naman sagabal sa inyo, ugaliing magsuot na ng mask upang proteksyunan ang sarili at ang ating pamilya.”

Go then stressed the significance of learning from past public health challenges, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, in dealing with current outbreaks.

“Tulad ng ating mga natutunan sa pandemya, mahalaga ang pagkakaroon ng sapat na kaalaman, pag-iingat, at pagtutulungan ng bawat isa. Dapat tayong magpatuloy sa pagbabakuna at pagsunod sa mga rekomendasyon ng mga eksperto sa kalusugan,” he said.

“Mag-ingat tayo lalo na ngayong Semana Santa. Tandaan na ang kalusugan ay katumbas ng buhay ng bawat Pilipino,” he added.

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