MANILA (Mabuhay) – The Department of Health has added free anti-pneumonia vaccination to its immunization program for children in the country’s health centers.
DOH Secretary Enrique Ona said this is another historic milestone to the DOH’s Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI).
“We are introducing the Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV) to the Philippine vaccination program for infants,” Ona said on the DOH’s Facebook page.
“This is part of our goal to achieve better health outcomes and meet our health-related Millennium Development Goals by strengthening existing public health programs, such as expanding immunization interventions,” he added.
Ona said the vaccine would have cost P2,050 per child, including three doses of the PCV.
He added Filipinos may have to spend up to P23,500 for hospitalization, including professional fee, consultation, laboratory tests and medication.
The DOH cited Philippine health statistics for 2010 showing pneumonia is the second leading cause of infant mortality, accounting for 2,628 deaths.
ARMM, Caraga first beneficiaries
The DOH said the integration of the PCV will be done by phases, with Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and Caraga being the first beneficiaries of the program.
“Additional regions will be included every year for administration of pneumococcal vaccines until 100 percent of the regions are covered,” the DOH said.
It said Caraga was chosen for initial PCV implementation to complement the Rotavirus vaccination that started in July 2012.
Also, Caraga was selected as the site for the impact study on the rotavirus vaccination which will end in 2014.
The ARMM and Caraga were among the regions where a high number of pneumonia cases had been recorded, the DOH said.
Under the program, the vaccine will be administered to 333,000 infants aged between six and 11 months, residing in the Caraga and ARMM areas.
The DOH said these infants represent 14 percent of the 2.4 million target infants nationwide.
Present vaccines in the DOH’s Expanded Program on Immunization include BCG for childhood tuberculosis, rotavirus vaccine, measles-mumps-rubella vaccines (MMR), polio vaccine, and pentavalent vaccine, a combination of Diphtheria-Pertusis-Tetanus-Hepatitis B-Haemophilus influenza vaccines. (MNS)