House OKs bill strengthening vaccination program

House OKs bill strengthening vaccination program

Congw. Helen Tan

MANILA — A proposed measure that seeks to enhance the country’s efforts towards disease prevention by expanding the mandatory immunization program for all life stages has been approved on second reading at the House of Representatives.

Members of Congress unanimously passed House Bill No. 8558 that will repeal Republic Act 10152, otherwise known as the “Mandatory Infants and Children Immunization Act of 2011,” including the list of diseases covered by the national immunization program.

If enacted into law, the program will now cover the following vaccine-preventable diseases: tuberculosis; diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis; poliomyelitis; measles; mumps; rubella or German measles; hepatitis-B; H. influenza type B (HIB); rotavirus; Japanese encephalitis; pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV); human papillomavirus (HPV); and booster for measles, rubella, tetanus, diphtheria (MRTD). 

It will also include such other types of vaccine-preventable diseases as may be determined by the Secretary of Health upon the recommendation of the National Immunization Technical and Advisory Group (NITAG) and after a separate or joint public hearing conducted by the health panels of Congress.

The bill, which was principally authored by Quezon Representative Angelina “Helen” Tan, mandates the Department of Health (DOH) to conduct massive and continuing education and information campaigns on the importance of giving basic immunization in light of the controversy surrounding the dengue vaccine that had somehow tainted the credibility of the government’s immunization program.

 Tan, who also serves as Chairperson of the Committee on Health, welcomed the approval of the bill and thanked Speaker Lord Allan Jay Velasco for supporting its early passage. “The timing for the approval of this significant health measure cannot be more perfect as the country is looking forward toward the introduction of COVID-19 vaccine, which is likely to become available in the country anytime soon. I am certain that this health legislation will pave the way for a more relevant, responsive, and reinvigorated immunization program that all Filipinos so badly need at this point”, Tan said. (AI/MTVN)

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