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PIA Press Release

Group brands tetanus vaccines as contraceptives; DOH denies allegations

By Mai Gevera

Davao City (13 October) -- A group consisting of medical practitioners, local public servants, and advocates for natural family planning has alleged that the recent tetanus toxoid (TT) vaccination order of the Department of Health and the Department of Education is a form of birth control.

Judge Jesus Quitain, representing the Archdiocese of Davao, questioned DepEd's memorandum order that provides free tetanus toxoid vaccination to 14 year old and above females in all public schools.

The order also indicated the deadline for the submission of the list of female students to be subjected for vaccination last August 23, 2010.

"If the main purpose of the vaccination is for anti-tetanus, then why did they limit it to only 14 year and above females when even males are actually more prone to tetanus infection?" he said.

Health planning and medical specialist Dr. Racquel Montejo of DOH XI clarified that said vaccination program targets women of reproductive age which starts at 14 years old who may be prone to neonatal death as they give birth.

"Survey showed that number of pregnant women without undergoing pre-natal check-up rose from 43 percent in 2008 to 59 percent in 2009 here in the region," she said.

This pushed the health department to aggressively campaign for TT vaccination to lessen neo-natal deaths in women.

She also stressed that tetanus infection does not spare males; however, the health program specifically targets tetanus infection in pregnant women to address neonatal deaths.

Quitain and his group doubted that said vaccine may contain something that will affect the reproductive system of those who will be injected with it.

Dr. Baby Palabyab explained the medical implication of the said tetanus vaccine which, according to her, contains the chemical component human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG).

She said the said vaccine may protect the human body from tetanus; however, another effect of such is that it doesn't make one pregnant within 10 years.

"The placenta produces hCG, an antibody that doesn't allow the survival of a baby," Palabyab said.

The group believes that such program is directly related to the reproductive health bill which the present administration is a staunch believer at.

"We believe that this is an experiment that uses our 14 year old and above females as guinea pigs," said Quitain.

He then asked the health and education secretaries not to play God with the lives of the 14 year public high school girls of Davao City.

Montejo, on the other hand, explained that the DOH collaborated with the Department of Education to tap the target beneficiaries in this program. The DepEd, on its part, informs and seeks permission from the parents of their students before conducting any vaccination program in the school premises.

"There is definitely parents' consent and this becomes voluntary on their part if they want to avail of the free vaccination," she said.

According to her, DepEd XI has already submitted the list of participating students and the target implementation of the program would be this month or November.

She also clarified that the TT vaccination does not contain any form of hCG as claimed by Quitain's group. (PIA XI) [top]

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