February 28, 2024

The Covid-19 pandemic should not discourage parents from bringing their children to the nearest health facility and have them immunized against the poliovirus and measles-rubella virus.

The Department of Health-Cordillera launched on Oct. 26 in Baguio City the supplemental immunization activity in its effort to convince parents and caregivers to have their children or wards vaccinated in order to protect them from complications associated with vaccine-preventable diseases such as polio and measles-rubella or German measles.

DOH-Cordillera Director Ruby Constantino said the agency’s beefing up of its immunization campaign is a response to the measles outbreak and reemergence of polio last year.

The low turnout is attributed to the dengvaxia scare and the lockdown declared early this year, which limited the movement of people. She said some children were not able to complete the recommended dosage of the vaccines due to the lockdown, hence the intensified campaign for qualified children to undergo vaccination.

Other than the attention given to Covid-19 response, Constantino reminded that other vaccine-preventable diseases need equal attention to avoid outbreaks in the future.

The DOH is targeting to immunize 100 percent of children nine months to below five years old.  It targets to immunize 155,721 against measles and 182,036 children against the poliovirus in the Cordillera for one month beginning Oct. 26.

The agency, along with local health offices, has spread out the immunization date to ensure there will be no overcrowding at health centers, clinics, hospitals, or rural health units. Temporary vaccination posts will also be set up at various barangays. 

Constantino called on parents and caregivers to bring their children at their nearest health facility and avail of the free immunization program of the government. She said all health protocols are in place and the vaccines against the poliovirus and measles are safe.

Pediatric Society of the Philippines-Northern Luzon chapter president Efren Balanag said the group will assist the DOH in the campaign. Private pediatricians can also administer these vaccines, albeit for a fee.

Balanag warned that if parents or caregivers refuse to have their children or ward vaccinated, there might be a measles or polio outbreak in the next five years. He said the enhanced immunization campaign this year is meant to stem the surge in cases recorded last year.

World Health Organization representative to the Philippines Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe said in a video message that polio and measles are highly-contagious diseases that cause significant complications once it invades the body.

The poliovirus enters the body through the mouth and spreads through contact with the feces of an infected person. The virus often attacks the spinal cord, resulting in permanent disability or even death.

Polio is prevented through vaccination administered orally in three doses beginning on a child’s first month, then on the second and third month. The fourth dose is administered via injection.

Measles is a highly contagious viral disease. It is transmitted via droplets from the nose, mouth, or throat of infected persons.

Its spread can be prevented through immunization administered in two doses: the first dose given on the ninth month from birth and the second dose on the child’s 12th month. If there is an impending outbreak, booster shots are administered. – Rimaliza A. Opiña