By Joseph B.A. Marzan
The Department of Health-Western Visayas Center for Health Development (DOH-WV CHD) on Monday said the provinces of Iloilo and Negros Occidental are its focus for its ‘Chikiting Bakunation’ National Vaccination Days for Routine and Catch-up Immunizations.
Dr. Daphynie Teorima, National Immunization Program coordinator of the DOH-WV CHD, said their latest data indicated that 52,228 children are still partially vaccinated or unvaccinated for their primary series of inoculations.
Negros Occidental has the highest with 15,628, followed by Iloilo province (12,766), Capiz (6,212), Bacolod City (5,802), Antique (5,005), Aklan (4,136), Iloilo City (2,020), and Guimaras (659).
A ceremonial launching with the Iloilo provincial government will be held on May 26 in several towns which are considered priority areas.
“We will be going this May 26 along with [the Iloilo provincial government] who has specific municipalities identified where they will be launching,” said Teorima.
Locations of the vaccinations, according to Teorima, will depend on local government units (LGUs), but these will not be done in larger areas unlike the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccinations.
“[Locations] will depend on LGUs. We won’t have mega-sites unlike COVID, because the population of children is smaller. Our [Rural Health Units] are enough to accommodate their parents and their children. […] In other cases, our health workers can also go door-to-door or at temporary fixed sites so parents can go there conveniently,” she added.
Teorima also expressly assured parents that vaccines are safe for children, citing their ingredients.
These comprise water as the main ingredient, preservatives, and stabilizers to store them safely and prevent contamination, active ingredient or a very small amount of a harmless form of the bacteria, adjuvants which create a stronger immune response to the vaccine, and residual traces of substances used during manufacture.
But like any form of immune response, vaccines may also have minimal side effects including soreness or pain in the injection site, headache, and possibly slight fever.
Serious reactions include allergic reaction (less than 1 to 1.31 per 1 million) and infection at the injection site, but these she says are very rare.
“Our vaccines have been proven safe. They have been developed over the years, and they have been ensured to be safe with minimal reactions in [children’s bodies],” she said.
The DOH-WV CHD likewise targets inoculating between 80 to 100 children per day for all childhood primary series antigens including Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG), pentavalent, oral polio, inactivated polio, pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV), and measles-mumps-rubella vaccines.
Catch-up immunization will likewise be conducted for infants aged 23 months old or almost 2 years of age who have not yet completed their childhood primary series vaccinations.
The Chikiting Bakunation Days started last April and is scheduled for the last Thursdays and Fridays of May (May 26 and 27) and June.
Minimum public health standards will still be followed as part of COVID-19 protocols.