Home Medical DOH Prioritizes Vulnerable Groups in Pertussis Vaccination Drive

DOH Prioritizes Vulnerable Groups in Pertussis Vaccination Drive

MANILA - In response to the limited availability of booster shots for pertussis, also known as whooping cough, the Department of Health (DOH) announced on Monday its strategy to focus immunization efforts on the most vulnerable segments of the population, including young children and pregnant women.

According to Philippine News Agency, the decision to target these groups stems from a need to optimize resource allocation amid constraints. Despite reports of insufficient vaccine supplies for other demographics at health centers, the department is actively seeking solutions to broaden access. The latest statistics highlight the urgency of the situation, with 568 reported cases of pertussis and 40 fatalities up to March 16, primarily affecting infants under one year.

The DOH advocates for the administration of the pentavalent vaccine, which offers protection against five different pathogens, to provide comprehensive immunity to infants starting from 6 weeks old. This approach not only addresses pertussis but also combats other diseases like diphtheria, tetanus, hepatitis B, and haemophilus influenzae type B.

The emphasis on vaccination is further justified by the nature of pertussis, which evolves from mild respiratory symptoms to severe coughing fits, but is preventable with timely antibiotic treatment and standard hygiene practices. Additionally, DOH Undersecretary Eric Tayag revealed plans to augment vaccine supplies through procurement facilitated by the UNICEF, expected by June.

The backdrop of this vaccination campaign is a broader context of declining immunization rates, attributed to vaccine hesitancy influenced by past controversies. Iloilo Representative Janette Garin, a former DOH secretary, underscored the negative impact of misinformation on public health, noting a significant drop in vaccine coverage in recent years. She emphasized the critical role of vaccination in combating preventable diseases and safeguarded public health.