Pneumonia Vaccine Now Part of Government’s Immunization Program

The Department of Health (DOH) has announced today the inclusion of free anti-pneumonia vaccine to its immunization program for children in health centers around the country.

“We are introducing the Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV) to the Philippine vaccination program for infants,” said Secretary of Health Enrique Ona in a statement.

The inclusion of the pneumonia vaccine is part of the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) of the DOH.

According to the Philippines Health Statistics of 2010, pneumonia ranks as the second leading cause of infant mortality, which accounts for 2,628 deaths.

“Pneumonia can cost up to P23,500 for hospitalization, including professional fee, consultation, laboratory tests, and medication”, Ona explained, adding that a full vaccination only costs P2,050 per child.

According to the DOH, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and Caraga Region will be the first recipients of the PCV. Additional regions will be included every year for the administration of PCV until 100% of the regions are covered.

ARMM and Caraga ranked number 13 among the regions with the highest number of pneumonia cases.

Also, Caraga was chosen for initial PCV implementation to complement the rotavirus vaccination that started in July 2012. The same region was selected as the site for the impact study on the rotavirus vaccination, which will end on 2014.

“This is part of our goal to achieve better health outcomes and meet our health-related Millennium Development Goals by strengthening existing public health programs, such as expanding immunization interventions,” Ona concluded.

The DOH Expanded Program on Immunization provides free vaccination to protect infants and children from common vaccine-preventable diseases. Such vaccines include BCG for childhood tuberculosis, rotavirus vaccine, measles-mumps-rubella vaccines (MMR), polio vaccine, and pentavalent vaccine, which is a combination of Diphtheria-Pertusis-Tetanus-Hepatitis B-Haemophilus influenza vaccines.