Fake news blamed for polio return

September 23, 2019

THE resurgence of polio is the result of effective fake news being spread by fear-mongers against vaccines said former Health Secretary now  Iloilo Rep. Janet Garin on the recent confirmation of the Department of Health (DoH) of the return of poliomyelitis.

Garin, Deputy MinorityLeader, blamed the non-experts who are talking, claiming false statement about Dengue vaccines as the culprit why vaccine hesitancy among parents is now prevailing.

Earlier, the DoH announced a confirmed case of Polio in Lanao Del Sur and in Laguna, after 19 years that the Philippines was declared polio-free.

“Vaccine hesitancy has increased since non-experts have started talking, claiming they knew everything about the dengue vaccine. They plastered their faces and spewed lies after lies feeding the media,” Garin said.

“They frightened the people of an effective vaccine which is now being used in 21 countries including the United States and the European Union,” she added.

Garin lamented that because of wrong information Filipinos fear going to their doctors and to the barangay health centers to have their children vaccinated, which has led to a massive coverage reduction leaving all Filipinos at high risk to viruses.  

The solon said because of loss of trust in vaccines, the country is now facing  measles outbreak, Japanese encephalitis outbreak, dengue outbreak and now polio resurgence.

“Health leaders should have taken measures to prevent resurgence. Experts should have been utilized and mobilized. However, threat of cases being filed for those who speak up the truth made many experts meek and the DOH was filled with demoralization,” Garin said.

According to the solon, during her tenure in DOH, there was resurgence of polio in Syria due to the Syrian War and in Pakistan where there was loss of trust in vaccines. Globalization makes it easier to transfer diseases such as polio

“In response, DOH in late 2014 was very aggressive in loading school children with booster doses of polio vaccine plus a shift to inactivated polio vaccine. We were guarding our country, maintaining it as polio free. Any reduction in vaccine coverage will allow the re-entry of polio in the country,” she said.

Garin then urged parents to trust the government’s vaccination program and bring their children five years below to the health center for the polio drops.

“Ngunit ngayon na bumalik na ang polio, hinihikayat ko ang lahat, lalo na ang mga magulang na pabakunahan ang kanilang mga anak. Kailangan makumpleto ang lahat ng bakuna. Ugaliin din maghugas ng kamay at dumumi lamang sa mga palikuran,” she said.

Sarcastically, Garin congratulated the alarmists and the pseudo-experts for bringing back several diseases that the government had managed to eradicate or minimized years ago.

“May we all learn from what is happening now. Let us not listen to non-experts and may the media lessen exposures for them. We have real experts who we can tap in times like this. Let us give the proper airtime to them. I would also like to remind everyone that vaccines were invented to save lives. Vaccinate your children,” Garin stressed.