MANILA, Philippines — Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto on Monday urged the Department of Health (DOH) to spend its advertising budget in an information drive aimed to fight fake news on vaccines.
In a statement, Recto said the P634 million of “advertising war chest” of the DOH is enough “to calm unfounded concerns that immunization causes harm,” adding that an information dissemination campaign is needed to maintain public confidence on government healthcare programs.
“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.
Recto issued the statements after the senator said health experts and scientists had warned of a “vaccine backlash” because of the Dengvaxia controversy.
Recto said the government is procuring P7.4 billion worth of vaccines this year, excluding the purchase of local government units (LGUs) of their own vaccines.
Under the 2018 public vaccination program, the P7.43 billion vaccination budget targets full immunization of 2.7 million infants.
Around 2.7 million infants will be given Japanese Encephalitis vaccine, in which 1.4 million of it will be administered pneumococcal vaccine.
Moreover, more than two million Grade 1 and 1.7 million Grade 7 students will benefit from anti-Tetanus-Diphtheria 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.
“Science must trump superstition,” Recto said.