Fewer childhood vaccines have been given during the Covid-19 pandemic. This is understandable because parents are afraid that they might catch the Covid-19 virus if they bring their kids to hospitals and health centers.
However, Covid-19 is not the only health concern that parents should be vigilant about. Recently, the Department of Health warned the public about the possibility of a measles outbreak. According to World Health Organization, measles outbreaks are being reported in the Philippines in 2020. As of August 2020, there are around 3,500 reported measles cases with 36 deaths. Most of the cases are among children under five years old. Likewise, the return of the polio virus is another health risk that parents should be aware of.
To keep children protected and avoid outbreaks of these vaccine-preventable diseases, the Philippine Pediatric Society (PPS) urges parents to have their children vaccinated. If you have doubts and fears when it comes to vaccination of your chid during the pandemic, here are some vital information from PPS that may address your concerns.
What is vaccination?
Vaccination is a proven preventive measure in the control and eradication of some of the life-threatening infections worldwide.
In the Philippines, coverage rates have suffered drastically in the last couple of years due to fears of vaccine safety, vaccine misinformation and disinformation which has impacted on our public health programs. Immunization coverage rates for vaccines against preventable diseases such as diphtheria, polio, pertussis, Hib, rotavirus, tetanus, pneumococcal, and measles have plateaued, and has never reached the 95% target since its introduction in the 1980`s in National Immunization Programs, giving rise to outbreaks in certain regions globally.
Top 3 Safety Questions Answered:
1. Do vaccines undergo extensive investigation?
Yes. The whole process from development to manufacturing, and licensure, follows a lengthy process that respects ethical considerations and is under the administration of regulatory authorities such as the FDA.
2. What is the purpose of clinical trials?
Clinical Trials involve human volunteers and are conducted in 4 phases to ensure vaccines safety and effectiveness.
Phases of a Clinical Trial:
Phase 1: Test of safety, efficacy, occurrence of serious side effects, size of dose related to side effects.
Phase 2: Test of most common short term side effects, response of immune system of volunteers to the vaccine
Phase 3: Test between people who got the vaccine as opposed to those who do not get vaccinated. They compare vaccine safety, effectiveness, and the more common side effects.
Phase 4: Involves continuous monitoring of safety and effectiveness after licensure for public use
3. What are the possible harmful side effects of vaccines and can they cause illness and even death?
“Vaccines are actually very safe, despite implications to the contrary in many anti-vaccine publications. Most vaccine adverse events are minor and temporary, such as a sore arm or mild fever. These can often be controlled by taking paracetamol after vaccination. More serious adverse events occur rarely (on the order of one per thousands to one per millions of doses), and some are so rare that risk cannot be accurately assessed. As for vaccines causing death, again so few deaths can plausibly be attributed to vaccines that it is hard to assess the risk statistically” .
1.WUENIC-Immunization Coverage- are we losing ground . 2020 2.https://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/ensuringsafety 3.https://www.who.int/vaccine_safety/initiative/detection/immunization_misconceptions
Safety Measures During Vaccination
Because of the Covid-19, the primary concern of parents nowadays is the safety of going to hospitals, clinics or health centers. Here are some of the safety precautions being done to ensure children’s safety during vaccination, according to Dr. Ana Lisa Ong-Lim, fellow of the Philippine Pediatric Society:
- Vaccination and consultations with most doctors nowadays are done by appointment. You have to call first by phone to set a schedule. The reason for this is to screen the patients. Typically, what the pediatrician will do is to have a separate schedule for sick children.
- Visits are done as quickly as possible. That’s why most of the questions will already be asked by the doctor via phone call so that the time that the child will be in the hospital or clinic will be limited.
What Parents Can Do
- If you have a private health care provider, consult your child’s pediatrician regarding vaccination schedule.
- Participate in the nationwide FREE measles, rubella, and polio supplemental immunization activity starting October 26. Ask about the specific schedule from your health care centers or baranggay.
To know more about vaccination, you may click this link to watch Dr. Ana Lisa Ong-Lim’s talk on Pressing Concerns on Vaccination During the Covid-19 Pandemic. Dr. Ong-Lim is a Professor and Attending Pediatrician at the University of Philippines and the Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH). She is a fellow of the Philippine Pediatric Society, where she serves as a member of its Board of Trustees. She is also the Immediate Past President of the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines.