Vaccines are used to boost your immune system and prevent serious, life-threatening diseases.

For a few weeks after birth, babies have some protection from germs that cause diseases. This protection is passed from their mother through the placenta before birth. After a short period, this natural protection goes away.

Vaccines help protect against many diseases that used to be much more common. Examples include tetanus, diphtheria, mumps, measles, pertussis (whooping cough), meningitis, and polio. Many of these infections can cause serious or life-threatening illnesses and may lead to lifelong health problems. Because of vaccines, many of these illnesses are now rare.

Vaccines “teach” your body how to defend itself when germs, such as viruses or bacteria, invade it:

  • They expose you to a very small, very safe amount of viruses or bacteria that have been weakened or killed.
  • Your immune system then learns to recognize and attack the infection if you are exposed to it later in life.
  • As a result, you will not become ill, or you may have a milder infection. This is a natural way to deal with infectious diseases.


Four types of vaccines are currently available:

  1. Live virus vaccines use the weakened (attenuated) form of the virus. The measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine and the varicella (chickenpox) vaccine are examples.
  2. Killed (inactivated) vaccines are made from a protein or other small pieces taken from a virus or bacteria. The flu vaccine is an example.
  3. Toxoid vaccines contain a toxin or chemical made by the bacteria or virus. They make you immune to the harmful effects of the infection, instead of to the infection itself. Examples are the diphtheria and tetanus vaccines.
  4. Biosynthetic vaccines contain manmade substances that are very similar to pieces of the virus or bacteria. The Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type B) conjugate vaccine is an example.

Philippine vaccination schedule

The National Immunization Program (NIP) consists of the following vaccines:

  • BCG vaccine, single dose given at birth
  • Monovalent Hepatitis B vaccine given at birth
  • DPT-Hib-Hep B vaccine, 3 doses given at 6-10-14 weeks of age
  • Oral Polio vaccine (OPV), 3 doses given at 6-10-14 weeks of age, a single dose of Inactivated Polio vaccine (IPV) is given with the 3rd dose of OPV at 14 weeks
  • Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV), 3 doses given at 6-10-14 weeks of age
  • Rotavirus vaccine given at a minimum age of 6 weeks with a minimum interval of 4 weeks between doses. The last dose should be administered not later than 32 weeks of age.
  • Measles-containing vaccine (either monovalent measles vaccine or MMR) given at 9 months of age
  • Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine given at 12 months of age

A school based immunization program to provide catch-up doses for school children and adolescents has been established . Measles-Rubella (MR) and Tetanus-Diphtheria

(Td) vaccines are administered to Grade 1 and Grade 7 students enrolled in public schools.

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) shall be given to female children 9-10 years old at health facilities in priority provinces. Quadrivalent HPV 2 doses are given at 0, 6 months.

Japanese Encephalitis Vaccine (JE)

  • Given subcutaneously
  • Given at a minimum age of 9 months
  • Children 9 months to 17 years of age should receive one primary dose followed by a booster dose 12-24 months after the primary dose
  • Individuals 18 years and older should receive a single dose only

Influenza Vaccine (Trivalent/Quadrivalent)

  • Trivalent influenza vaccine given intramuscularly (IM) or subcutaneously (SC)
  • Quadrivalent influenza vaccine given intramuscularly (IM)
  • Given at a minimum age of 6 months
  • The dose of influenza vaccine is 0.25 ml for children 6 months to 35 months and 0.5 ml for children 36 months to 18 years
  • Children 6 to 8 years receiving influenza vaccine for the first time should receive 2 doses separated by at least 4 weeks. If only one dose was given during the previous influenza season, give 2 doses of the vaccine then 1 dose yearly thereafter.
  • Children aged 9 to 18 years should receive 1 dose of the vaccine yearly
  • Annual vaccination should begin in February but may be given throughout the year.

Hemophilus influenzae Type b Conjugate Vaccine (Hib)

Given intramuscularly (IM)

Indications for children with high risk conditions: chemotherapy recipients, anatomic/ functional asplenia including sickle cell disease, HIV infection, immunoglobulin or early complementary deficiency

Children aged 12-59 months:

  • Unimmunized or with one dose of Hib vaccine received before age 12 months, give 2 doses of Hib vaccine 8 weeks apart
  • Given 2 doses of Hib vaccine before age 12 months give an additional dose

Children 5 years old and older who received a Hib booster dose during or within 14 days of starting chemotherapy/radiation treatment should receive a repeat dose of the vaccine at least 3 months after completion of therapy.

Vaccines for adults

Immunizations are not just for children. Protection from some childhood vaccines can wear off over time. You may also be at risk for vaccine-preventable disease due to your age, job, lifestyle, travel, or health conditions.

All adults need immunizations to help them prevent getting and spreading serious diseases that could result in poor health, missed work, medical bills, and not being able to care for family.

  • All adults need a seasonal flu (influenza) vaccine every year. Flu vaccine is especially important for people with chronic health conditions, pregnant women, and older adults.
  • Every adult should get the Tdap vaccine once if they did not receive it as an adolescent to protect against pertussis (whooping cough), and then a Td (tetanus, diphtheria) booster shot every 10 years. In addition, women should get the Tdap vaccine each time they are pregnant, preferably at 27 through 36 weeks.

Adults 19-26

In addition to seasonal flu (influenza) vaccine and Td or Tdap vaccine (Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis), you should also get:

HPV vaccine which protects against the human papillomaviruses that causes most cervical cancers, anal cancer, and genital warts. It is recommended for:

  • Women up to age 26 years
  • Men up to age 21 years
  • Men ages 22-26 who have sex with men

Adults 60 years or older

In addition to seasonal flu (influenza) vaccine and Td or Tdap vaccine (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis), you should also get:

  • Pneumococcal vaccines, which protect against pneumococcal disease, including infections in the lungs and bloodstream (recommended for all adults over 65 years old, and for adults younger than 65 years who have certain chronic health conditions)
  • Zoster vaccine, which protects against shingles (recommended for adults 60 years or older)

Pregnant women

If you are pregnant, the two vaccines you’ll need during each pregnancy are:

  • Tdap (preferably between 27 and 36 weeks of pregnancy) to help protect against whooping cough, and
  • The flu shot (during flu season, which is October through May) to help protect against influenza.

You may also need other vaccines. Talk with your ob-gyn to find out which vaccines are recommended to help protect you and your baby.

Travel vaccines

Make sure you are up to date on all recommended vaccinations before traveling abroad.

Some types of international travel, especially to developing countries and rural areas, may have higher health risks. These risks depend on a number of things including:

  • Where you are traveling
  • Your activities while traveling
  • The state of your health
  • Your vaccination history

Many vaccine-preventable diseases that have become rare in the Philippines are still common in other parts of the world. Certain activities, such as attending crowded events, can increase the spread of infectious disease. No matter where you plan to go, you should get recommended vaccines to lower the chances for getting and spreading disease.

Finding your vaccine records and getting all the vaccines you need may take some time. Talk with your health care professional when you begin to plan international travel. If your primary health care professional does not stock travel vaccines, you may need to visit a travel clinic to get the vaccines you need.

  • See your health care professional at least 4-6 weeks before any international travel. You may need this much time to complete a vaccine series, and your body needs time to build up immunity. Find out vaccine recommendations and requirements for your travel destination.
  • Ask about routine vaccines when you talk to your health care professional about travel. Make sure you are up to date on your all recommended vaccines, such as MMR vaccine, before you travel.
  • Check if the country you are traveling to requires proof of yellow fever vaccine. Only a registered provider can offer this vaccine, and you must get it at least 10 days before travel. You will need a stamped vaccine certificate as well.

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