Many people have grown tired of hearing about vaccines due to the pervasiveness and constant talk about COVID-19 vaccines in recent months. This phenomenon is termed “vaccine fatigue”, which is defined as inaction towards vaccine information or instruction due to burnout, according to an article by researchers in the US, Brazil and China that was published in the peer-reviewed “Frontiers in Immunology” Journal.
As recent events have proven, vaccines are essential in keeping the populace protected against deadly diseases. Yet, there remains an urgent need to educate Filipinos on the importance of vaccines, not just against COVID-19 but against other fatal diseases. This is the goal of Zuellig Pharma, Asia’s leading healthcare services provider, and its healthcare solutions company, Interpharma Solutions Philippines, Inc. (ISPI).
“As a champion of vaccination, Zuellig Pharma aims to make vaccines accessible through vaccination programs for influenza, pneumonia, hepatitis, malaria, HPV and more,” said Allan Bautista, Zuellig Pharma Vice President for Integrated Solutions.
Vaccine-preventable diseases exert a heavy toll in the Philippines. According to Bautista, only around 6 percent of the Philippine population receives the flu vaccine every year. Moreover, pneumonia remains as one of the top 10 killers of Filipinos as recently as January to June 2021, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority. Nearly 33,000 Filipinos died from this killer disease last year. Cervical cancer is the second killer of women in the Philippines, according to the Department of Health.
“After their teenage years, many people stop getting immunized. The next time one would probably be immunized is during the senior years. So, there is extremely low vaccine appreciation and penetration among those aged 15 to 50 years,” said Bautista.
Other factors that result in low vaccine penetration are fear of the vaccine and misconceptions about its effects, fear of needles, and other unaddressed myths and factors. Another reason for vaccine hesitancy is the cost of vaccines, which affects access.
Flu vaccines range from P1,300-P1,500 while pneumonia vaccines may cost P5,000-P6,000. Zuellig Pharma has designed group packages and programs for corporate partners and various LGU entities to ensure that Filipinos have access to these lifesaving products. These packages offer savings of as much as 40-50% compared to usual rates.
“Our mission is to make healthcare more accessible to everyone. By making vaccines easily available, immunization rates will rise, which will be beneficial for the country as a whole,” said Bautista. “We are in a critical phase in our health journey as a nation and it is imperative to forge health partnerships with as many like-minded organizations as possible to promote healthcare for all.”
To date, ISPI has conducted several vaccination caravans and partnered at least 100 companies/private institutions in Metro Manila and select key provinces nationwide. ISPI has also worked with corporations and organizations to ensure protection and timely vaccination of their employees and members.
Zuellig Pharma has also developed eZHealth, a total healthcare solutions mobile platform. The platform currently has more than 2.9 million users, built to empower consumers to access personalized healthcare needs. Filipinos can use the app to schedule a vaccination appointment and proceed to the nearest vaccination hub listed to receive it. By opening other channels to receive vaccinations, eZHealth has helped bring down the cost of getting immunized.
To further help improve vaccine penetration, Zuellig Pharma also plans to partner with LGUs and private and public entities to conduct high-impact education and vaccination programs for communities and employees.
“Zuellig Pharma hopes to prevent diseases, promote healthier Filipinos and help save lives through end-to-end collaborations with local government units and private entities,” says Jannette Jakosalem, Zuellig Pharma Market Managing Director for the Philippines. “This year, as the company marks a century of making healthcare more accessible, we remain committed to working closely with key stakeholders such as the DOH, our clients, suppliers and the industry as a whole to promote health access. Communities benefit if people remain open to vaccines, and we have it in our power to save lives”, she adds.