February 27, 2024

A recently passed ordinance requires parents to present their children’s full immunization card upon the latter’s enrollment at any city day care center.
Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda, main author of the ordinance, stressed there is a pressing need to encourage parents in the city to have their infants and children receive mandatory vaccines against preventable diseases. 
Tabanda said childhood immunization gives protection not only to the vaccinated but also to the people around them, especially the vulnerable groups.
“Immunization boosts the infant’s or the child’s immune system and greatly reduces the severity of the disease. It protects the body from serious complications that have debilitating and fatal effects,” she stated.
The councilor said despite the free mandatory basic immunization given by government hospitals or health centers to infants up to five years old, there may still be infants and children who have not received the immunization shots.
Tabanda said the ordinance is anchored in Republic Act 10152, which mandates the immunization of infants and children in the country.
“Let us start with our children in child development centers. Then we can work on the immunization of other children in the city later on,” she stated.
Under the ordinance, the child development worker is mandated to require the parent/guardian of the child to present the child immunization record or vaccination card/report which is part of the initial health record upon enrollment at the city day care center.
Should the parent/guardian fail to present any, or was able to present one but it reflects an incomplete record of vaccines received by the child, the worker shall refer the parent/guardian to the City Health Services Office for counseling. 
After the referral and counseling, should the parent consent to immunization, the health personnel shall prepare and administer the vaccines as per schedule, free of charge.
Exemptions shall be given to children who cannot be immunized due to medical reasons as determined by a doctor and due to religious reasons. To be exempted, the parents shall present a medical certification issued by a physician or a certification from the church or religious group the child belongs to. If the refusal is due to personal principles, the parents/guardians shall issue a certification stating the parents/guardians are assuming responsibility for the child’s health.
These documents shall be part of the health record of the child at the child development center.
The ordinance was transmitted to the City Mayor’s Office to be signed by the chief executive before it takes effect.
The mandatory basic immunization covers vaccine-preventable diseases such as tuberculosis; diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DPT); poliomyelitis; measles; mumps; rubella or german measles; hepatitis B; influenza type B; and other types as may be determined by the Secretary of Health.
In a public consultation conducted by Tabanda, City Epidemiologist Donnabel Panes presented the number of cases of five most common vaccine-preventable diseases in the city.
From 2017 to 2021, measles was the most prevalent vaccine-preventable disease with 912 cases followed by hand foot and mouth disease with 398 cases; adverse event following immunization with 32 cases; pertussis with 18 cases; and diphtheria with four cases.
No cases of acute flaccid paralysis (polio) and neonatal tetanus were recorded within the period. 
Panes revealed in 2020, the city’s rating for fully immunized children was only 44 percent because of the Covid-19 pandemic, which explains the high percentage of cases of measles in 2020 onwards.
She said the city government is now doubling its efforts in immunizing infants and children in the city. 
Panes reminded parents to immediately alert the CHSO or the nearest health center if a child manifests signs and symptoms of any of these vaccine-preventable diseases. – Jordan G. Habbiling