At least 2.9 million Filipino children remain unvaccinated and vulnerable to life-threatening diseases such as measles, rubella and polio, the United Nations Children’s Fund said as it marked World Immunization Week from April 24 to 30.
The measles immunization coverage in the country has declined at an alarming rate, from 88 percent in 2013 to 73 percent in 2017.
In 2018, measles immunization coverage was recorded at less than 70 percent, far below the 95 percent required for population immunity.
“Every child has the right to the best possible health care and access to disease protection through timely vaccination. Vaccines are the safest and most effective way of saving lives,” said UNICEF Representative Julia Rees.
Philippine laws support immunization through the Mandatory Infants and Children Health Immunization Act that makes basic immunization mandatory and free at any government hospital or health center for infants and children up to five years of age.
UNICEF, however, is advocating that the unfinished business of immunization is “every child’s right and everyone’s business.”
“Increasing immunization coverage requires everyone to work together urgently, not only health workers. While parents and caregivers are mainly responsible in having their children immunized, everyone in the community has a role in ensuring that all children, especially the most vulnerable and marginalized, are immunized according to schedule,” UNICEF said.