Rolando G. Estabillo, Chairman of the Philippine Press Institute, on Wednesday (Nov. 29) expounded on the great chasm between the overdose of fake news and the benefits of vaccination during the first day of the Injecting Hope seminar-workshop in Century Park Hotel in Manila. – Photo by Harold T. Raymundo

By Perfecto T. Raymundo, Jr.

MANILA – Rolando Estabillo, chairman of the Philippine Press Institute (PPI) stressed on Wednesday (Nov. 29) the great “chasm” between the overdose of fake news and the benefits that can be derived from inoculation, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Estabillo cited the immense power and role of the media in combating fake news, especially during times of pandemic and beyond during the first day of the “Injecting Hope” seminar-workshop held at the Century Park Hotel in the City of Manila.

Chito Maniego, of Pfizer Philippines, said that the seminar-workshop is a recognition of the significant role of the media in the dissemination of accurate and credible news and information, notably during the pandemic.

Maniego assured the continued support and collaboration of Pfizer with the members of the media as far as catching up vaccination and life-course immunization are concerned.

Teodoro Padilla, executive director of the Pharmaceutical & Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP), cited the effects of Covid-19 such as “lockdowns” and even the world economic stagnation.

Padilla noted the important role of the media in reporting about the Covid-19 pandemic which hardly hit the country from March 15, 2020 until the end of 2022 which even claimed the lives of the media practitioners themselves.

Last week, the PHAP launched “The Power of Innovation”, a report on the contributions of the Philippine Pharmaceutical Industry.

The PHAP came out with the report taking into consideration the period of three years, during which time Covid-19 has claimed millions of lives, livelihood opportunities lost, economies closed down and the families’ ways of living have been altered.  

“Vaccines will not work if people do not take them. In general, the loss of confidence in physicians, determines the confidence in vaccines,” Padilla said.

Dr. Janis Bunoan Macazo, program manager of the National Program for Immunization of the Department of Health (DOH), discussed The National Program for Immunization: Responding to the Needs for Protection Across Life Stages.

One of the priority programs in the Philippines which started in 1966. The DOH wanted to promote that vaccination is good from pregnancy to adulthood. The life stages are pregnancy, neonatal age, infancy, childhood, adolescence and adulthood.

Just last August 2023, the DOH launched the “First Immunization Summit” through the auspices of the UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund) which highlighted the National Immunization Program of the DOH, with the participation of the local government units (LGUs).

“Bakunanays and PapaVaccines” advocate for vaccination to promote inoculation for vaccine-preventable diseases.

There is now a proposed Immunization Bill which has passed the First Reading in the House of Representatives in the 19th Congress that hopefully would be passed, enacted and signed into law during the term of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr.

Atty, Odilon Luis Pasaraba, Undersecretary for Project Development Management of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), said that the government recognizes the involvement of local and regional centers in the implementation of vaccination operations in preventing deaths.

The success of vaccination program hinges on the importance of public trust, both as to the vaccines to be administered in the efficacy and effectiveness of the vaccines.

“Need and importance of a whole-of-nation an a whole-of-government approach. Planning is crucial. Unhampered implementation of all vaccination related drives amid priority emergency programs,” Pasaraba said.

“We submitted a proposal to the Department of Health (DOH) in 2022 to incentivize the local government units who delivered in the vaccination program to incentivize and recognize the LGUs but has yet to be acted upon,” he added.

Considering that vaccination is mandatory, the local government personnel can only do so much and hopefully no “kalabasa award” for those LGUs who may not have performed well in the government’s vaccination efforts.

“We need to give due courtesy to the DOH as they are the key implementor of the vaccination program of the government. We just let them do the strategies on such matter,” Pasaraba said.

The PPI organized the two-day (Nov. 29-30) seminar-workshop in partnership with Pfizer, PHAP, Philippine Alliance of Patient Organizations, and Philippine Foundation for Vaccination, among others.