Only children with parental consent will be able to avail the free immunization program of the government, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said on July 9.

DOH said it will go on with providing free vaccination to students from kindergarten to Grade 7 using the school-based platform.

“Only learners with parental consent will be vaccinated after a quick health assessment and evaluation of their immunization status against measles,” the health secretary said.

He, however, explained that the parental consents need from the students is part of the program’s “protocol” and it not intended to protect the government from any legal proceedings.

Moreover, Duque urged mothers and caregivers to get the free immunization services themselves in order to protect themselves from diseases that could be prevented through immunization.

According to Duque, the DOH is implementing school-based vaccination as an approach to reach adolescents and older children. 

“It is a platform to provide a second opportunity for vaccination and an excellent platform that integrates other public health interventions, like mass deworming,” he said.

Meanwhile, the DOH targets to vaccinate a total of 9,913,032 schoolchildren with the program.

Last week, during the program launch, DOH targeted 2,259 Grade 7 students for measles vaccination and booster shots of tetanus-diphtheria. 

Furthermore, the health department is also aiming to immunize 58,037 Grades 1-7 pupils and students from Valenzuela City. Among those, 14,967 will be given booster shots of tetanus-diphtheria while 3,473 Grade 4 female students will get the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.

Duque said that immunization program conducted in school will be until September.

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Health Secretary Francisco Duque III spearheaded the immunization activity held at Signal Village National High School in Taguig City on July 9. (Image source: philstar.com)

Duque’s response to improving public trust

He was glad to see the improving sentiment of the public over vaccines after the Dengvaxia controversy. With this, he is still hoping that the public’s trust will continue to increase as he led a measles vaccination program yesterday in Valenzuela City.

The health secretary spearheaded the school-based immunization program at the Apolonia Rafael Elementary School in Barangay Mapulang Lupa. They were able to vaccinate 58,037 grade school students with measles vaccines as DOH attempts to prevent the repeat of measles outbreak in Metro Manila earlier this year. 

Along with this, Duque also expressed relief for the new academic year as parents became more convinced of the benefits of early immunization for their children.

“This is a total turnaround from what it used to be during the height of the Dengvaxia scare. I hope parents will not bring their children out of fear, but because of trust and confidence on the vaccine,” Duque said.

He also added that he would support the implementation of a bill that would mandate immunization for students before they enter school. However, he acknowledged that this has to be consulted with the public first.

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