Senate approves SBN 138 to institutionalize mandatory Hepa B vaccination

By Jasonde Asis


SENATE OFFICE, Manila, November 10, 2010-The Senate approved in third reading the Senate Bill No.138 otherwise known as An Act Acquiring Basic Immunization Services Against Hepatitis B for infants which was introduced by Senator Pia Cayetano, chair of the committee on health and demography in institutionalizing the mandatory vaccination of infants against Hepatitis B.


The vaccination of children against the disease is already being practiced by the Department of Health (DOH) where under the bill the health department will have to allocate a yearly budget for Hepatitis B immunization, adding that the expanded immunization program of the DOH currently covers vaccination against tuberculosis, inoculation against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis, oral poliomyelitis immunization, protection against measles, and immunization against rubella.


Cayetano hopes that when it becomes a permanent component of the program once the bill becomes law the DOH program will provide permanent health care through immunization against Hepatitis B.


“There is still a lot to do, but we are getting there. We have accomplished step one with the approval of the bill which provides for vaccination. Step two will be awareness, and step three will be providing health care to those who have already contacted Hepatitis B,” she said.


The senator said newborns will be vaccinated against Hepatitis B for 24 hours from birth, in case the child is born outside a hospital or clinic, he or she should be brought to any available health care facility for vaccination against Hepatitis B within 24 hours after birth, and will not be later than seven (7) days after birth.


The subsequent doses of the vaccine will be completed according to the recommended schedule of the Hepatitis B immunization, pointing out that the bill also calls on all health care workers and practitioners administering prenatal care to educate pregnant mothers on the importance of immunizing their children against the highly contagious disease.


The bill stated that the 2.5 percent allocation for the disease prevention program of the DOH from the incremental revenues from the alcohol and tobacco excise taxes, as provided for under Republic Act No. 9334, shall be used to supplement the existingbudget.


The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PHIC) mandated by the bill to include basic immunization services in its benefit package. (Jason de Asis)