Press Release
September 20, 2019

Amid polio's return, Pia urges health officials to intensify info drive on vaccination

Senator Pia S. Cayetano is strongly urging health officials to step up their efforts in convincing Filipino mothers to have their kids vaccinated, following the health department's declaration of a polio epidemic in the country.

The principal author and sponsor of the Mandatory Infants and Children Immunization Act (RA 10152), Cayetano expressed alarm that the Philippines has lost its polio-free status.

The senator made the call after the Department of Health (DOH) reported that a 3-year-old girl from Lanao del Sur was recently diagnosed with polio, marking the return of the dreaded illness to the country after two decades.

Exactly a month ago (August 19), Cayetano delivered a privilege speech in the Senate to call attention to the risks brought about by the country's deteriorating vaccination rates, particularly for the poliovirus.

In her speech, she said if mothers continue to refuse having their children immunized, the spread of the virus could just be "a snap of a finger away."

"Since the year 2000, we have already been declared polio-free. My children grew up at a time where there was no more polio. After 19 years, it's so sad that this (disease) may actually come back," she stressed.

"All these diseases have already been eradicated or are close to being eradicated because we've had a successful vaccination program throughout the decades. But now, mothers are suddenly not bringing their children to the health centers to be vaccinated," she added.

As early as the 2019 campaign period, the senator has been going around the country reminding health workers on the ground to educate mothers about the importance of vaccination.

"Because of the (dengue vaccine) scare, ang conclusion ng mga nanay ay masama na ang lahat ng bakuna. But time and again, we kept on repeating that this is not true," she said.

Cayetano called upon the DOH and local government officials to conduct more enticing information drives to keep promoting the government's immunization program.

"As public servants, we are tasked to ensure that the welfare and health of our children are properly protected. So if we need to shake things up a bit, I think we really should," she said, reiterating her call a month ago.

"We deprive the life of these children - a life that could be spent climbing trees, playing sports, or enjoying other physical activities - if we let their mothers disregard the importance of vaccination," she added.

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