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    Monday, July 22, 2019-7:47:48A.M.






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Regional News

Duterte to campaign for immunization

MANILA (The Philippine Star) — Amid a measles outbreak,  President Rodrigo Duterte is taking a direct hand in the information campaign that seeks to restore the public’s confidence in the government’s immunization program.

Presidential Communications Operations Secretary Martin Andanar said the president will deliver a message about the importance of immunization in one of his speeches.

“I heard the president will help (Health Secretary Francisco Duque III) bring back the people’s trust in the Department of Health’s immunization program and the president himself will help in the communications,” Andanar said.

“I think he will say something in one of the coming events,” he added.

Andanar said his agency will “actively support” the health department’s information campaign.

“We will assist them in their vaccination program, which was affected by the issue on Dengvaxia…other immunization programs were also affected. Several illnesses like measles and pneumonia could have been avoided (if children were given immunization),” Andanar said.

Last year, the country’s immunization rate plunged to 40 percent from an average of 70 percent in recent years. Officials have blamed the drop on the Dengvaxia controversy, which erupted after it was disclosed that the vaccine may have placed recipients who never had dengue fever at risk of contracting more severe diseases.

Duque has attributed the measles outbreak in various parts of the country to the panic caused by the Dengvaxia fiasco.

Last week, Duterte ordered agencies to launch a “vigorous” information campaign to promote the government’s immunization program.

A deputy speaker of the House of Representatives called on officials to stop blaming each other for the measles outbreak in the country, but work instead to restore the trust of Filipinos in the government’s vaccination programs.

“Right now, the most important message — the only message — that we need to be hearing from everyone is to assure the mothers. Convince the mothers to have their children vaccinated,” House Deputy Speaker Rep. Pia Cayetano said. “As we are talking, while we are pointing fingers, debating, babies are dying,” she added.