DOH targets 95 percent polio vaccine coverage

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Polio is a highly infectious disease that mainly affects young children who have not completed their vaccination schedules.

The disease is transmitted from person-to-person primarily through the fecal-to-oral route resulting from poor sanitation and hygiene practices, and less frequently through contaminated food or water.

Once in the intestine, the poliovirus multiplies, invades the nervous system and causes paralysis or even death.

That is why the Department of Health (DOH) is targeting 95 percent vaccination coverage of children under five years of age.

Round two

The DOH announced that the 2nd round of Sabayang Patak Kontra Polio (SPKP) in Region III and in three provinces of Region IVA, namely Laguna, Rizal and Cavite started on September 14, 2020 and that will run until September 27.

Two drops of the monovalent Oral Polio Vaccine Type 2 (mOPV2) will be given to children under five years of age for free, regardless of their immunization status.

Last July and August 2020, the DOH in partnership with the local government units (LGUs) conducted the first round of the SPKP in the same regions. The results, however, were below the desired target of 95 percent vaccination coverage of children under five years of age—80.6 percent (Phase 1) and 81.39 percent (Phase 2) in Region 3, and 81.71 percent (Phase 1) and 70.88 percent (Phase 2) in the three provinces of Region 4A.

“With the Covid-19 pandemic, the challenges of conducting an effective polio outbreak response immunization are numerous and unprecedented. Nevertheless, our health workers and vaccinators have worked tirelessly to reach every child and provide them with oral polio drops,” Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III remarked.

Polio drops

The oral polio drops, Duque said, will provide additional protection to the children against the poliovirus and prevent a polio outbreak.

The SPKP is a series of polio vaccination rounds provided to children under five years of age in selected high-risk areas of the country, where each vaccination round is synchronously conducted within a two-week period. Since July of 2019, the Department has successfully conducted several rounds of SPKP in the National Capital Region and in all regions of Mindanao.

This year, the Department included two additional regions, namely Regions 3 and 4A, after polio cases were reported in Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija, and Calamba City, Laguna.

“I challenge our Central Luzon and Calabarzon Centers for Health Development and LGUs to replicate the successes and best practices of our previous SPKP campaigns. The outcome of this SPKP round will determine our next steps in addressing the polio outbreak,” Duque said.

Poliomyelitis is a disease with devastating and lifelong consequences such as paralysis or even death. There is no cure for the disease and vaccination is the best way to prevent polio.

“Our fight against polio is not over. Since the mOPV2 is not commercially available and only given in government health facilities, I continue to urge parents and caregivers to have their children vaccinated against this disease during the said vaccination dates. Let us work together and ensure that no child is left behind unvaccinated,” Duque said.

Patak Polio in Calabarzon

The DOH—Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) has kicked off the second round of SPKP, a supplemental door-to-door immunization campaign to prevent the spread of the virus in the provinces of Laguna, Rizal and Cavite and to protect vulnerable children from the consequences of polio recirculation.

“The second round of immunization activity will ensure full protection of children against the poliovirus and is expected to improve the immunization coverage by providing all children under five years old with free doses of oral polio vaccine,” DOH Region 4A Director Dr. Eduardo C. Janairo stated.

“Administering multiple doses of OPV to children has been proven to be safe and effective in preventing the transmission of the virus. Kailangang magkaroon ng full vaccination ang isang bata, ibig sabihin dapat mayroon siyang four doses ng polio vaccine upang magkaroon sya ng full protection,” he emphasized.

The DOH recommends that children must get one dose at each of the following ages—two months old,  four months old, six through 18 months old and four through six years old.

Janairo reminded parents of children zero to 59 months old to make sure their children are vaccinated against polio.

Image credits: AP/Bullit Marquez

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