Parents bring their babies to a health center and have them vaccinated against certain diseases. (PNA photo by Gil Calinga)

MANILA – The Department of Health (DOH), through its Metro Manila Center for Health Development, has inoculated over 137,701 infants against vaccine preventable diseases (VPDs) in the National Capital Region (NCR).

In a statement on Tuesday, the DOH said the achievement is part of its “Vax-Baby-Vax” campaign, a 10-day catch-up immunization launched last Nov. 7.

The agency aims to protect infants ages 0-12 months in the NCR against VPDs which include polio, measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, hepatitis B and human papilloma virus (HPV).

It has exceeded its original total target of 137,000 infants in the region after vaccinating 701 more infants, bringing the total coverage rate to 100.48 percent.

The top three cities with the highest coverage rates are Manila with 28,073 vaccinated infants or 130 percent of their target population; Quezon City with 23,732 or 129 percent; and Parañaque City with 10,803 or 122 percent.

“We are very proud of this achievement not because we exceeded our target, but because having done so means that we were successful in protecting our children against debilitating but easily-preventable diseases,” DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said.

Apart from protecting infants against VPDs, the campaign aims to increase the immunization coverage in the NCR and to reach vulnerable infants who missed their routine immunization due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

The DOH's latest available data on immunization coverage disclosed around 1.4 million Filipino children born during the Covid-19 pandemic have yet to receive a single vaccine dose.

Vergeire said the DOH recognizes that mobility restrictions during the pandemic and other factors like natural disasters kept parents from having their infants from completing their routine immunizations.

“Hindi pa huli ang lahat para pabakunahan ang ating mga anak. Huwag na po nating hintayin na magkasakit sila at magsisi tayo, ngayon pa lang ay ibigay na natin sa kanila ang proteksyon na kailangan nila upang mabigyan natin sila ng malusog at matiwasay na buhay habang sila ay tumatanda (It's not too late for your children to be vaccinated. Let's not wait for them to get sick first and have regrets, give them the protection they need now so they will grow up healthy),” she added.

She lauded the local governments for the vital role they played in the success of the vaccination campaign.

“This milestone is clear proof that if we work together, we can achieve and even exceed our set targets. Nagawa natin ito sa Metro Manila, gagawin din natin ito sa ibang mga rehiyon (We did it in Metro Manila, we can do it in other regions)," she said. (PNA)