The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant influence on healthcare systems not just here in the Philippines but also around the world. Routine immunization has become less of a priority as healthcare resources have been stretched to the breaking point. Unfortunately, this has resulted in a drop in childhood vaccination coverage, which has serious long-term effects.
According to the Department of Health, following the impact of COVID-19, routine immunization went down to an all-time low of 48.5% in 2020, which recovered in 2022 to only 62.9%.
Recently, the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) urged its members to prioritize routine and catch-up immunizations this year. In a roundtable discussion, LMP Secretary General and Barcelona, Sorsogon Mayor Atty. Cynthia Falcotelo-Fortes underlined the necessity of contextualization and localization in each community, emphasizing the importance of prioritizing and the importance of routine immunization.
Meanwhile, Dr. Ana Ong-Lim, the Department of Pediatrics Professor and Chief of the Section of Infectious and Tropical Disease of the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital, expressed the urgent need to increase childhood vaccination in the country, following the impact of COVID-19.
Taking these into consideration, our country’s healthcare system must act quickly to safeguard children from vaccine-preventable diseases. With the advancement of COVID-19 vaccination and the relaxation of restrictions, there is an opportunity to return to normal and catch-up immunization.
Even the World Health Organization is urging community action to protect individuals from vaccine-preventable diseases.
Routine immunization is critical for protecting children, especially during these challenging times.
Local governments must take decisive action to promote childhood vaccination, protect more people, particularly children, from preventable diseases, and bring immunization closer to the people. Let’s help raise awareness and encourage action on routine and catch-up immunization. We must all work together to defend our children and future generations.