MANILA, Philippines – Humans are susceptible to many serious illnesses including common vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, rotavirus gastroenteritis (diarrhea), chickenpox, pneumonia, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), poliomyelitis (polio), and others. These diseases caused hundreds of people around the globe to suffer, and even worse, unfortunate deaths. But what if you could avoid these illnesses?
Advancements in science and technology brought us one of the most important human discoveries of all time – vaccines. Getting vaccinated boosts a person’s immunity to protect them from getting sick.
Prevention is better than cure. A key component to have a stronger immune system is to get on-time immunization. And when it comes to your child’s immunization, it is important to talk to your pediatrician to help you guide on the different vaccines your child must have.
“Immunizing your child is one of the most important things a parent can do for their children,” said Dr. Maria Margarita M. Lota, pediatrician and faculty at University of the Philippines – College of Health in her recent webinar on Call The Shots PH Facebook page. On-time vaccination can help prevent your child from getting vaccine-preventable diseases. Vaccination also helps in acquiring herd immunity.
Dr. Lota recommends having children vaccinated as early as 6 weeks old and to keep a record of each vaccination. Early vaccination on babies is essential because infants are at high risk of catching diseases, including infectious ones, due to their weak immune system. Pediatric experts yearly updates the childhood immunization schedule which is based on data gathered by medical societies and a group of healthcare professionals to keep track of all the vaccines children must have. It is important to know the schedule of vaccination to keep them fully protected and safe as they grow older. In this way, on-time vaccinations can help parents save time, money, and even anxiety and worry.
Immunity is the body’s “protective gear” to shield and fight away diseases and we can get strongly immunized through vaccination. Dr. Lota assures that vaccination is a simple and effective way to protect your child from harmful, infectious diseases. Vaccination gives our body immunity where our natural defenses are built to fight foreign antibodies such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, and others.
“We have to understand that vaccination is a type of immunization. Immunization is the process of inducing our immunity either naturally katulad ng pagpasa ng nanay ng antibodies sa kanyang baby or artifically katulad ng pagbabakuna. Immunity ay isang paraan para i-build up ng ating natural body’s defenses ang mga proteksyon laban sa mga sakit na nakakahawa,” Dr. Lota explained. (“We have to understand that vaccination is a type of immunization. Immunization is the process of inducing our immunity which can be done either naturally when mothers give antibodies to their baby or artificially through vaccination. Immunity is one way for our body’s defenses to build up protection against infectious diseases,” Dr Lota explained.)
To guide parents about vaccination, Dr. Lota emphasized that talking to a pediatrician or private doctor is key to keep your child on track in getting vaccinated. “They should turn to us instead of asking their neighbors about it,” Dr. Lota reminded. The Philippines has an Expanded Program on Immunization since 1976 spearheaded by the Department of Health (DOH), according to Dr.
Lota. The program ensures that access to routine immunization is being given to infants and children. While there are vaccines that can be given by health centers for free, some may need to be administered by private doctors like Chickenpox, Hepatitis A, and boosters, Dr. Lota said. It is therefore important that while you keep track of your child’s on-time immunization, keep an open, honest, and constant communication with your pediatrician. In this way, we are helping one another to protect each other.
Vaccinations help save lives, including the lives of the people around you. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), vaccines are now available to prevent more than 20 life-threatening diseases. Being immunized now prevents 2-3 million deaths every year from serious diseases like diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, influenza, and measles. It must be noted as well that vaccines, like medicines, may present with mild side effects that resolve spontaneously after a few days. said Dr. Lota. Basically, vaccines originate from weak or dead microbes which undergo strict and meticulous scientific process before being injected to humans. As the vaccine enters the body, the immune system will start to develop defense mechanisms to fight a certain disease so if you get exposed in the future, your body has built up antibodies to combat it.
Vaccination in the time of COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has put a halt to almost everything in the world, and this includes vaccination. Now that we are adapting to the new normal, strict health and safety protocols are in place for parents to start bringing again their child “Back to Bakuna.” Vaccination programs were affected due to the suspension of routine mass vaccination campaigns, less access to vaccination because of quarantine measures, worries and anxiety of getting infected by COVID-19 which prevented people from going out, and a problem with supply chain where there is a delay due to the several quarantine restrictions in place.
Giving out vaccinations during the “new normal” can be very crucial, but parents should be reminded that at this time vaccination is more essential than ever to help protect their children from getting serious diseases.
Dr. Lota shared that catch-up vaccination is being implemented. This is an immunization approach based on national immunization schedule which is deemed essential because of the disruption in giving out vaccines at the height of the pandemic. She assures that clinics/hospitals are prepared with strict and meticulous health and safety protocols to administer vaccines again. It must be noted, however, that there are no commercially available COVID-19 vaccines for children yet.
Some protocols one must take note of are:
1. Get and know the clinics/hospital’s schedule first.
2. Set an appointment as most clinics would require a “ Appointment only” protocol to manage the number of patients per day.
3. Patients, including the physicians and health workers, will undergo health screening.
4. It would be better to advise in advance the type of vaccine to be given and to also bring your child’s record so your doctor can review and advise on the next steps.
Call The Shots For Your Baby’s Protection
Aside from talking to your doctors, proper education and the right access to information is one of the key factors to spread the importance of immunization. This is where the advocacy campaign Call the Shots PH comes in. It is an awareness advocacy campaign by MSD in the Philippines that shares informative materials that helps parents protect their children from vaccine-preventable diseases. Medical experts take part in vaccination discussions which are freely accessible on the Call The Shots PH Facebook page.
When it comes to immunization, it is important to ask your doctors for advice so you can get the right information. Parents must also keep in mind that it is also their call for their children to get the shots. Call your pediatrician and ask about vaccination to keep your child protected today and in the future to come.
To learn more visit https://www.facebook.com/CallTheShotsPH/
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