CEBU CITY — Health care experts have expressed concern over reports that the Philippines is among the countries with the highest number of people unvaccinated against certain diseases.
They said the country must intensify its campaign to prevent several diseases, including dengue and human papillomavirus (HPV).
“As doctors, we are sad and even ashamed as Filipinos that we are one of the countries with the highest zero vaccination rates,” said Dr. Jonathan Lim, overall chairman of the 24th Philippine National Immunization Conference, held last week in Cebu City.
The high zero-vaccination rate was blamed on the Dengvaxia vaccine controversy, which led to hesitancy and zero-contact policies during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Lim, an expert on pediatric infectious diseases, said a new dengue vaccine would arrive in the country next year and that people should not be afraid of it despite the controversy over the Dengvaxia vaccine.
He said the new dengue vaccine could be available free of charge through the government or commercially through the private sector or pharmaceutical companies.
“The good thing is that the new vaccine coming to the Philippines is actually a different vaccine,” Lim said in an interview on the sidelines of a conference in the city.
“It’s a different type of vaccine that has been shown to be safer and works better.”
The 24th Philippine National Immunization Conference was attended by over 600 doctors, nurses, midwives and pharmacists.
Health care experts have also urged children to be vaccinated against HPV early, as young as age 9.
HPV infections can cause some cancers in men and women. It can also cause cancer of the cervix, anus, and oropharynx, among others. HPV vaccination can prevent more than 90 percent of cancers caused by this virus.
Lim concluded that the HPV vaccine “works better in these young children compared to young people” based on scientific studies conducted on children who have been vaccinated.
Dr. Mitzi Maria Chua, an adult infectious disease specialist, stated that HPV is common and that 8 out of 10 sexually active people, men and women of all age groups, become infected, and some do not even know they have it. May.
“Many people may not be aware that they have contracted HPV and may not have any symptoms,” she said.
She said persistent infection can lead to some cancers and other HPV-related diseases.
“Sexually active women and men remain susceptible to HPV-related cancers and diseases throughout their lives,” she said.
Despite this troubling public health issue, she said most adults do not realize that HPV is linked to cancers other than cervical cancer and that it can only infect people in polygamous relationships.
Numbers game, PH near bottom of vaccination rate