President Rodrigo Duterte and his Cabinet will tackle on Wednesday the government’s immunization program after the Chief Executive expressed concern over the drop in the number of children who received vaccines.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the immunization program of the Department of Health (DOH) is among the topics on the agenda of the monthly Cabinet meeting to be held in Malacañang.

Nograles did not give details but the meeting comes after the DOH declared an outbreak of measles in the National Capital Region and Central Luzon.

The DOH had also reported a drop in immunization coverage in the country from an average of 70 percent in the past years to 40 percent in 2018 as public apprehension over mass vaccination came to the fore following deaths allegedly linked to the Dengvaxia vaccine.

The Dengvaxia controversy arose in November 2017 when French manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur announced that the vaccine may lead to more severe symptoms of dengue for those who have never been infected by the virus prior to vaccination.

As a result, the DOH stopped the school-based dengue immunization program and proposed to Duterte a panel of Asian health experts that will look into safety issues raised against the vaccine.

Last week, Duterte urged parents to have their children vaccinated, saying it was necessary to keep a person healthy.

“It’s alarming to government for people to shy away vaccination for their children,” he told reporters in Malabon City on January 29.

Nograles said the other topics to be discussed during the Cabinet meeting are how to streamline the procedures in the Department of Agrarian Reform, improve agricultural productivity and alleviate the lives of farmers and fisherfolk including better access to credit and loan facilities.

He also said the National ID system will be tackled.

This article originally appeared on GMANetwork.com on February 6, 2019

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