Aimed at restoring confidence in the globally accepted and effective protocol of childhood vaccination, pediatric doctors all over the country have come together to launch advocacy in response to the current measles outbreak.
“Save the Future” campaign was launched by the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines (PIDSP), a subspecialty organization of the Philippine Pediatric Society (PPS) during its annual convention held at the Crowne Plaza Galleria Manila in Ortigas, Quezon City.
Identifying vaccine hesitancy as a key factor in this outbreak, the movement seeks to engage in activities that will highlight the safety and efficacy of vaccines provided by the public program.
The movement brought together the members of PIDSP as well as the other subspecialty societies of the Philippine Pediatric Society. The PPS, established in 1947, is the oldest medical society of physicians caring for newborns, infants, children and adolescents in the Philippines.
“Addressing the issue of vaccine hesitancy within our individual and collective capacities is a matter of professional as well as personal responsibility being Filipino citizens,” stated PIDSP president Dr. Anna Lisa T. Ong-Lim.
“Our movement is a public-private partnership that aims to mobilize our society members to cooperate and collaborate with government stakeholders in making the most of our available vaccine resources and to deploy them properly and effectively,” she added.
In a recent joint letter to its member-doctors and the Department of Health, the PPS and PIDSP issued an “urgent plea” to “immunize eligible children against vaccine-preventable diseases.”
This primarily involves the routine immunization schedule for infants that vaccinate against tuberculosis, diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus, polio, Hemophilus influenza B, hepatitis B and measles from birth to the first year of life.
The organizations reminded pediatricians to ensure up-to-date immunization of their patients as part of the primary responsibility of their individual practices. In particular response to the current measles outbreak, PPS and PIDSP also now recommend pediatricians to administer the first dose of measles vaccine to infants starting at the age of six months instead of the usual nine months, as recommended in the country’s Childhood Immunization Schedule. The schedule is determined annually by both societies along with the Philippine Foundation for Vaccination (PFV).
PPS and PIDSP also urged members to collaborate and coordinate with their respective city, municipal or provincial health offices in organizing community-based regular vaccine mission activities to help administer free measles and other vaccines that are available to qualified children, adolescents, and even adults.
“We need to take urgent action in order to preserve the advances we have made in the past decades in terms of curing children of fatal diseases and steadily decreasing the number of vaccine-preventable deaths in the Filipino population,” said PPS president Dr. Salvacion Gatchalian.
“We are optimistic that all of us working together will effectively address this healthcare crisis that has gripped our country,” she added.