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DoH to start A(H1N1) vaccination this month—execs Health personnel, high-risk groups to get vaccines

Posted on: December 3, 2009

DoH to start A(H1N1) vaccination this month—execs

Health personnel, high-risk groups to get vaccines
By Anna Valmero
First Posted 13:50:00 12/03/2009

Filed Under: Health, Swine Flu, Medicines

BACOLOD – The Department of Health (DoH) will start conducting vaccinations against (A)H1N1 influenza for frontline health personnel and high risk groups after the vaccines are delivered by month-end, officials said Thursday.

World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director Margaret Chan committed that the Philippines would receive nine million doses of vaccines, good for nine million Filipinos who are frontline healthcare workers and those belonging to high-risk groups, said Dr. Troy Gepte, WHO technical officer for communicable diseases, surveillance and response.

About 1.2 million vaccine doses will be included in the first shipment, with the remaining to follow over the next months, he said.

“Once the shipment has started, we would be assisting the DoH on the nationwide distribution of the vaccines down to the barangay [village] level. Presently, we are coordinating with local government and health units to create a master list of those who would get vaccinated, specifically healthcare workers and high-risk groups,” said Gepte.

Before high-risk groups, about 400,000 frontline healthcare workers nationwide would be first to receive the vaccination since they would be highly exposed to the virus during treatment of (A)H1N1 patients, said Dr. Lyndon Lee Suy, program manager, emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases at DoH.

High-risk groups, which include pregnant women, the very young and old, and those with chronic or underlying conditions, are prioritized to receive the vaccines since they are prone to develop complications upon exposure to the (A)H1N1 flu virus, he said.

“We need to prioritize who will get the vaccination because of the limited supply. We would give them first to health care personnel who have potential exposure to (A)H1N1 patient, plus they may also unknowingly transmit the infections to their families and other patients with other illnesses. The next group includes high-risk groups,” said Lee-Suy.

Vaccinations will be given to anyone – regardless of economic status – and this will be done on a voluntary basis so high-risk individuals can refuse to get the flu shot, which others dubbed as “trial versions” since it was the first production of the vaccines after the epidemic hit Mexico on April, said Lee-Suy.

For this, DoH and WHO will hold information campaigns on the benefits of getting vaccinated against the (A)H1N1 flu virus, said Gepte.

Lee-Suy also warned Filipinos returning home from abroad, especially the United States and Japan where outbreaks have been recorded at the start of the winter season, should be observant of influenza-like illnesses (ILIs) to prevent spreading possible (A)H1N1 virus to their family and relatives.

He added that surveillance systems in sea and airports have been in place since April to detect and isolate persons with fever upon arrival in the country.

At the start of the cold season in the country, Lee-Suy urged Filipinos to be vigilant in observing ILIs that might be possibly caused by (A)H1N1 and thus, should follow quarantine procedures or limited contact to other people. High-risk groups with ILIs are advised to seek medical consultation immediately.

DoH has ordered P100 million worth of pandemic vaccines that will immunize the country’s health workers to augment vaccine donations from the WHO and wealthy countries such as the United States, Australia, Japan and European Union member countries.

“We cannot afford to just sit and wait for the vaccine donations. We are also making our best efforts to procure on our own,” said Health Secretary Francisco Duque in a statement.

The WHO Western Pacific in September said that donations coming from industrial countries and pharmaceuticals would be distributed equally to cover 10 percent of the population in developing nations. With a population of 90 million, the Philippines is set to receive nine million doses to protect 10 percent of its population.


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