DOH to prioritize vaccination of most vulnerable vs. pertussis

THE Department of Health (DOH) on Monday said it would prioritize the protection of the vulnerable population against pertussis or whooping cough.

The DOH made this remark amid reports that free booster shots for children aged 5 years old and above, adolescents, adults, and pregnant women are not available in health centers.

“In a situation with limited resources, the DOH is choosing to protect the most vulnerable first and is open to exploring ways to make access to the vaccines easier for the other population groups,” the DOH statement read.

It said a total of 568 pertussis cases with 40 deaths were recorded as of March 16. About 393 of the cases are below one year old.

“Choosing to focus vaccination efforts to the youngest (as early as 6 weeks of age) and with a multi-purpose vaccine (e.g., pentavalent which protects not just against pertussis but also diphtheria, tetanus, hepatitis B, and haemophilus influenza B) gives multivalent protection to this age group and as they grow older,” it said.

The DOH said pertussis can be treated with antibiotics and may last from four to 14 days.

Apart from vaccination, it can be prevented by covering coughs and sneezes, and through regular and proper handwashing.

Pertussis starts as a mild cough and cold that lasts about two weeks, and is followed by paroxysms or fits of coughing which lasts up to six weeks.

DOH Undersecretary Eric Tayag earlier said up to 1 million vaccines to be procured through United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund are expected to arrive in June.

He said more than PHP8 billion has been allocated for the procurement of all types of vaccines “for the Filipino people.” (PNA)