May 21, 2024

Health advocates in the Cordillera continue to face challenges in achieving the projected vaccination coverage for children.

In the 10-year immunization data of the Department of Health on fully immunized children from 2013 to 2023, the figures have not reached the 95 percent coverage rate.

The vaccination rates in the first three years of the 10-year data were at 73 to 72 percent. Since 2016, the average rate of vaccination was 65 percent.

DOH Medical Officer IV Anachris Kilakil said achieving a 95 percent rate for full-immunized child is a challenge not only for the Cordillera but also for other regions in the country.

On the demand aspect, the low confidence in vaccines, fear of side effects, and perceived norms and religious beliefs remain a hindrance to the efforts of the DOH and its partners in giving the children their needed immunization shots.

In some households in the region, gender dynamics plays a factor because the father refuses to have his child vaccinated.

In terms of supply, the availability of vaccines and logistics affect the readiness of facilities to provide immunization to the eligible population.

In highly urbanized areas like Baguio City, Kilakil said records from private health care providers where parents opt to have their child immunized in are not reflected in the DOH data, which affects the vaccination rate.

Also, the city’s highly mobile population is giving health workers a hard time finding children eligible for vaccination.

Other factors that affect the low vaccination coverage is the delayed schedule some children are provided with vaccination.

Kilakil said for a child to be considered immunized, they should not only be getting their complete doses, but they should receive these on time.

Children who receive their complete doses beyond the time they should be receiving these are categorized as completely immunized child and are not included in the database of Fully-Immunized Children.

The DOH is reiterating the importance of vaccination as it joins the World Immunization Week, which is observed from April 24 to 30 to highlight its importance in protecting the population.

Kilakil said worldwide, six million deaths are avoided because of vaccination.

While vaccination does not promise total protection, it helps the population protected from the complications of diseases.

Vaccination also helps achieve herd immunity and helps governments save from allotting resources to address outbreaks of diseases and pandemics. It also provides better opportunities for individuals to work by helping ensure their health and well-being. – Jane B. Cadalig