The Department of Health has a P634 million advertising budget for this year, “which it should use to fight the fake news that all vaccines are bad.”
The suggestion was made by Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, who said that the DOH’s “advertising war chest” is big enough “to calm unfounded concerns that immunization causes harm.”
“Science must trump superstition,” Recto said in calling on the DOH to launch an information drive so that the dengue vaccine flop will not erode public confidence on government healthcare programs.
Doctors and scientists had warned that the Dengvaxia controversy could trigger a “vaccine backlash,” and if this happens, Recto said, “it would put millions of children, seniors, women at risk.”
Recto revealed that government is buying P7.4 billion worth of vaccines this year, “in quantities that will benefit millions.”
“Whether we like it or not, one side effect of this Dengvaxia controversy is that people are asking if the vaccines to be bought using taxpayers’ money are safe,” Recto said.
“I know that they ought to be, but the DOH must still go out of its way to assure the public that vaccines meet the highest standards,” he added.
Costing P7.43 billion, the 2018 public vaccination program targets full immunization of 2.7 million infants, of which 1.4 million infants will be given pneumococcal vaccine.
All 2.7 million infants will also be administered Japanese Encephalitis vaccine.
In addition, 2.1 million Grade 1 and 1.7 million Grade 7 pupils will benefit from anti-Tetanus-Diptheria, and Measles shots.
Tetanus vaccine will also be given to 2.7 million pregnant women while 1.2 million flu shots and 1.3 million pneumococcal vaccines will be administered to seniors.
According to the DOH briefer submitted to the Senate, full immunization for infants cover inoculations against Hepatitis, Polio, Pneumonia, Measles, Mumps and Rubella.
Aside from the DOH, local governments also buy vaccines.
The Department of Education likewise conducts its own health programs, like its bi-annual deworming drives. “Mayroon ngang balita na patideworming ay kinakatakutan ng ilang nanay. Itong ganitong mga maling akala ang dapat labanan gamit ang katotohanan.”