The 2019 Childhood Immunization Schedule for the Philippines, which indicates the recommended vaccines for children and adolescents, has been released with a recommended indication for measles vaccine for infants as young as 6 months of age.
The annual schedule is developed by the Philippine Pediatric Society (PPS) and the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines (PIDSP) together with the Philippine Foundation for Vaccination (PFV).
Similar to last year, the schedule contains 13 vaccinations that Filipino children need from age 0 to 18 years. These include the anti-tuberculosis Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) and the Hepatitis B vaccine (HBV) given to children right after birth. Both the HBV and BCG are included in the National Immunization Program (NIP), which identifies vaccines that are available for free at health centers.
The Childhood Immunization Schedule also covers vaccines that can protect children from diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B, haemophilus influenzae type B, polio, pneumococcal infections, rotavirus infections, influenza, measles, Japanese encephalitis, mumps, rubella, chickenpox, hepatitis A, and human papillomavirus (HPV).
Given the measles outbreak nationwide, however, pediatricians now recommend that the first measles vaccine be administered at six months old. Measles vaccines are usually given to infants at nine months old, but they can be given as early as six months of age in cases of outbreaks.
The PPS and PIDSP also reminded parents that vaccination is a safe and scientifically proven way of fighting deadly and infectious diseases. During PIDSP’s 26th annual convention held last February 21, the doctors launched the “Save The Future” movement to restore the public’s confidence and trust in vaccination, alongside the release of the national childhood immunization schedule.
“Vaccinating our children is one of the most basic medical interventions to ensure that our children develop as healthy adults. Some fears and myths persist that vaccines could harm infants, but decades of studies have shown that vaccines prevent unnecessary child deaths instead of causing them,” said PIDSP president Dr. Anna Lisa T. Ong-Lim.
PPS President Dr. Salvacion Gatchalian also emphasized the need for collaboration between parents and doctors.
“While the Childhood Immunization Schedule contains our ideal vaccination routine, we acknowledge that some patients will require schedules that are different from our recommendations,” said Dr. Gatchalian. “That is why it is important for parents to consult their pediatricians so they can make the best possible decisions for the health and well-being of their children.”