Health Undersecretary Eric Tayag on Thursday (Nov. 30) confirmed that vaccination saves lives during the second day of the Injecting Hope seminar-workshop at Century Park Hotel in Manila. – Photo by Harold T. Raymundo

By Perfecto T. Raymundo, Jr.

MANILA – Health Undersecretary Enrique “Eric” A. Tayag on Thursday (Nov. 30) categorically said that “Vaccination saves lives.”

“Vaccination saves lives is the more powerful message while it helps prevents and mitigates diseases,” Dr. Tayag said on the second day of the “Injecting Hope” seminar-workshop organized  by the Philippine Press Institute held at the Century Park Hotel in this city.

The suggestion on the increase public trust and confidence in vaccination, which for Dr. Tayag is something that should be measurable.

“Adopt a whole-of-society, whole-of-government and integrated approach for vaccination and the usual suspects are the DOH, DILG, DepEd and we are saying a whole-of-government approach,” Dr. Tayag said.

The Department of Health (DOH) official was concerned about the matter that the “media can make or break” such that the media has the power to make or break anything.

However, it was clarified that “make or break” was tackled during the previous presentations during the seminar-workshop.

“I always believe that what is not written did not happen,” Undersecretary Tayag said.

The DOH executive expressed the hope that it should always be for the good of everything, saying that “Solid evidence or backup information is needed before saying that it (vaccination) impacts on that and others.”

He noted that community and patient education is “broad” that “you can actually provide information to just anybody else.”

Usec. Tayag cited the case of a patient who is taking medicines for high blood pressure, but nobody would dare ask whether such medicines are for Influenza or Pneumococcal.

“You cannot counter a scientific evidence with another scientific evidence,” he told the seminar-workshop participants.

During the Dengvaxia, Tayag said that “It was not about logic. It’s about emotions. It’s difficult to correct that. It’s already emotions.”

“You needed sources of information to debunk myths. Interview credible resource persons in order to come out with the best story,” he added.

“The best story is just you make a picture of a long line of people waiting for their time for vaccination. You’re not only promoting vaccination. The image itself shows a good story. Your own experience from you, yourselves is the best story,” Dr. Tayag said.

It was pointed out that the social media influencers are not part of the local community journalist.

Dr. Tayag has retired from government service in April 2023, but he was promoted to the rank of Undersecretary, which is “co-terminus”, hence, he will serve until the end of term of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. in 2028.

“I still think Philippine media is reliable because DOH officials are still talking about figures and yet the media is already reporting about 182,000 cases,” Dr. Tayag said.

“You are not a good mentor if you yourselves are not doing it,” he added.

The Philippine Foundation for Vaccination is turning 25 years old and yet it still studying about the vaccines.

“All of these talks about trust and the easiest way to get the trust is not sa isip, hindi sa salita at sa gawa. And this holds true for any story. Pag nakita nyo po ang nagpapabakuna, gusto ko rin yon. There are vaccines. There are vaccinators,” Dr. Tayag.

Dr. Tayag cited for an example that in October 2023, when there was an increase in Influenza-like disease, the elderlies were made to make a long line only to find out that the Influenza is still coming by November.

“Patutunayan nyo na ubos na ang Flu vaccines (You will prove that Flu vaccines are out),” Dr. Tayag said as he challenged the participants in the seminar-workshop.

“If we will have the capability to make our own vaccine, it would be much cheaper,” he added.

The DOH executive stressed that what China confirmed is that this is a mixed pathogens or “walking pneumonia”, which has no anti-biotic drug for cure.

“Because of the three-year lockdown, we were not able to develop an anti-biotic vaccine. Hence, at the start of the year, we have 200,000 Influenza-like cases,” Dr. Tayag said.