Solon Stresses Need for Immunization Amid the COVID-19 pandemic

  • If in case vaccines are already available, how can the Philippines secure enough drugs or vaccines against coronavirus? 
  • While there is still no specific vaccine for Covid19, what are the recommended vaccines/immunizations to protect us against the severe complications of the disease?
  • What do you think we can learn from this outbreak? What can it teach us about other diseases and the decision to vaccinate?

These are some of the questions answered in the Kapihan sa Manila Bay with Marichu Villanueva webinar earlier.

During the very first online “Kapihan Sa Manila Bay”, House Committee on Health chair Rep. Angelina Tan reaffirmed her stand on mandatory immunization amid the COVID-19 pandemic as a way to prevent future outbreaks from happening.

Tan cited the importance of pursuing the government’s immunization program even during the community quarantine as a way to ensure that children are protected from future pandemics.

“We have several initiatives in Congress in relation to the country’s immunization program,” Tan revealed. “We are pushing for the creation of the NITAG, a national immunization advisory board, and we are trying to adopt a school-based immunization program that will benefit our students,” she added.

Congresswoman Angelina Tan, Chairperson, Committee on Health, House of Representatives

Congresswoman Angelina Tan also reaffirmed her call for an open, competitive bidding process in vaccines. According to Tan, an important element in the immunization program is to ensure that the procurement of vaccines is done in such a way that no single manufacturer is favored. The specifications in bidding should not favor a single brand.

Late last year, the Department of Health (DOH) suspended a call for bidding for pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCVs) after medical experts noted that the bidding favored a single manufacturer.

Health Undersecretary Dr. Ma. Rosario Vergeire

Health Undersecretary Dr. Ma. Rosario Vergeire explained in the same forum that the DOH suspended the bidding for PCVs after new evidence that they need to look into more carefully was presented.

“Nung lumabas ang bagong ebidensiya na sinubmit sa atin, ang desisyon namin ay ipasok muna sa Health Technology Assessment Center (HTAC). HTAC is reviewing the procurement, which is really the right process. Ngayon po hindi pa lumalabas ang recommendation ng HTAC,” Vergeire revealed.

“Hindi natin tinigil ang programa, hinihintay lang namin ang recommendation ng HTAC at itutuloy natin ang programa,” she added.

The DOH previously requested the HTAC to review the National Immunization Program (NIP), particularly the Pneumococcal Vaccination Program for children, in light of new 2017 and 2019 evidence from the World Health Organization (WHO).

In February 2019, WHO reaffirmed this earlier position saying that the two available PCVs in the market–PCV10 and PCV13–are equally effective in preventing overall pneumococcal diseases in children. The position paper also states that there is at present insufficient evidence of a difference in the net impact of the two available PCVs on overall disease burden.

For her part, Dr. Lulu Bravo, an epidemiologist and professor of Pediatric Infectious and Tropical Diseases at the College of Medicine of UP Manila, stressed that the new evidence regarding PCVs that came out recently came from experts themselves. “According to the WHO, when it comes to pneumococcal vaccination for children, both PCV10 and PCV13 are just as good. The important thing is cost-effectiveness,” Bravo noted. “We should follow what the WHO says, being experts in their field. If you cannot believe WHO, who will you believe?” she added.

Kapihan Sa Manila Bay

In the same Kapihan, epidemiologist Dr. Troy Gepte supported the DOH’s move to have the PCV procurement assessed, stressing that the HTAC review is indeed mandated by law. “It is something that we need to undergo so we can have a more objective way of determining both the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of any medicine, vaccine, product or procedure that goes through our medical system,” Gepte noted.

When asked about the P4.9-billion budget for PCVs, Vergeire said, “Talagang mahal po yung bakuna. Matagal na naming pinag-aralan yan, late last year pa. Kaya nga po ay humingi na ng tulong sa HTAC. We wanted to know if we are being cost-effective. Lalo na meron na tayong pangangailangan sa mga ibang bakuna. Kailangan na talagang pag-aralan ang gastusin sa vaccine.”

Tan also stressed, “Both vaccines exist. If the health assessment proves that both PCV10 and PCV13 have the same effects, then we need to go through a procurement process that’s open and competitive so the government can save on costs.”

It was also mentioned in the webinar that Rep. Adriano A. Ebcas of the Ako Padayon Pilipino Partylist and three other partylist representatives filed a resolution urging the DOH to ensure the continued safe implementation of the mandated National Immunization Program for children despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The House Resolution aims to encourage and support the DOH in its endeavor to contain the current outbreak and prevent future community outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases (VPDs) during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The resolution also aims to secure and ensure a stable supply of available vaccines through the continued conduct of open, fair, and competitive bidding, thereby preventing any “outbreak within an outbreak.”

In the resolution, the solons declared, “An open, fair, competitive public procurement of NIP vaccines provide the Filipino people the broadest possible options for affordable, quality, and registered vaccines, allowing for potential significant savings to the government while at the same promoting strong public governance.”

Prevention is better than cure…

In my opinion, I know that the COVID-19 pandemic is on everyone’s mind, but as a parent, let’s not forget about other diseases, such as pneumonia, measles, chickenpox, whooping cough, hepatitis A and B, and other illnesses. Immunization is one of the safest and most cost-effective ways to end vaccine-preventable child deaths. This outbreak reminds us of how valuable vaccines are. We should keep our children and ourselves up to date with that vaccination. Without the protection of vaccines, diseases can spread quickly and with terrible consequences.

Like it? Share with your friends!



Your email address will not be published.

  1. Oo nga Momshie Iris dapat talaga kumpletohin ang bakuna ng mga bata.. dahil kasi sa Dengvaxia issue kaya natatakot na ang mga magulang na magpabakuna ng kanilang mga anak..

  2. Yes mommy dapat kumpleto sa bakuna ang mga bata, immunizations are most safest way to end vaccine preventable child diseases. Maiwasan lang kung napakakuhan natin ang ating mga anak or kahit ang mga elders vulnerable din sila ngayong may pandemic.

  3. Si bby ko complete vaccine. Sa center lang kami nag papa inject kasi libre. Pag sa mga hospital kasi may bayad di kaya ng aming tight budget! Praying this pandemic gone quickly so we can go back to our normal life.

  4. Dapat naman talaga kompleto bakuna nang mga bata dahil para din yun sa safety nila. lalo na sa panahon ngayon kelangan merong complete vaccine ang ating mga anak laban sa mga sakit sa kumakalat.

  5. Agree ako sayo mommy.Napakahalaga talaga ng Vaccines na to sana maging maayos na ang lahat..Masyado ng nakaktakot para sa mga bata

Mommy Iris

I'm a lifestyle and mommy blogger from the Philippines. Pinay Ads was created to share bits and pieces of my life and my family. I have a wide array of interests that include entertainment, movies, music, gadgets, traveling, food, baking, and more. So, I hope you’ll stick around and enjoy reading!