By Genevieve Candace Poquiz

The World Health Organization (WHO) revealed last Monday, November 7, that the Philippines has one of lowest rates of childhood immunization globally, with 1.6 million children estimated to have yet to receive a single dose.

Photo Courtesy of UNICEF Philippines/Shehzad Noorani

Dr. Robert Kezaala, WHO medical officer on Vaccine-Preventable Diseases (VPD), attributed the low vaccination rate to the two years in the middle of the pandemic, which caused children to miss their vaccines.

"The Philippines is one of the ten countries with the most unvaccinated children in the whole world. And that's why we're working very hard with the Philippines to make sure that it gets back to coverage of over 80% to 90%,” Kezaala said, iterating the country's performance during pre-pandemic.

The WHO official pointed these out during the Department of Health’s (DOH) “Vax-Baby-Vax”  — a 10-day catch-up vaccination drive against VPDs, including polio and measles, for 137,000 infants ages 0 to 23 months in Taguig City.

Last October 21, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Philippines reported that the country is 5th in the world with the most zero-dose children and the 7th country with the most unvaccinated children versus measles in the previous year.

Furthermore, DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire predicted last month that there will be a measles outbreak in 2023 with only 62.9% fully vaccinated children, leagues behind the target of 95%, which the Philippines never managed to reach since the 1990s.

Edited by Audrei Jeremy A. Mendador