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Dengue immunization set for June

CEBU, Philippines - The long-delayed schedule for the dengue immunization in schools will finally be implemented this June, assured Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial.

This school-based activity by the Department of Health (DOH) will be introduced in Cebu province, including the three highly-urbanized cities of Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu. As of this time, no exact date for the activity has been set yet.

“For the dengue vaccination, the trainings are ongoing as well as the social preparation for the target population with the parents and teachers and this will be implemented in June,” Ubial told reporters on the sidelines during a public gathering in Cebu City.

Following this directive from the agency's highest-ranking official, DOH-7 Regional Director Dr. Jaime Bernadas said in a separate interview that they will have to gear up their groundwork if they are to conduct the dengue immunization activity this coming June.

He said DOH-7 has already completed the preparatory activities such as the orientations with the involved stakeholders.

Based on the yearly monitoring, dengue cases in Central Visayas peaked in 2016 with 28,995 cases and 254 deaths – a twofold increase in deaths from 2015, and record-breaking as it surpassed the highest records in deaths for 2012.

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Majority of the cases were reported to be from the towns and cities in Cebu province which then prompted public officials to ask health authorities to expand the school-based immunization program to the province.

This initiative had already rolled out in some regions in Luzon.

The recent weekly report from DOH-7’s Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (RESU) showed that Dengue cases have reached to 5,686, including 57 deaths for the period January 1 to May 13, 2017.

Majority of the cases were from Cebu City (1,334 cases or 23.5 percent) followed by Mandaue City (465 cases or 8.2 percent); and Lapu-Lapu City (392 cases or 6.9 percent).

RESU Cluster Head Dr. Shelbay Blanco had said that about 700,000 Grade 4 pupils from over 150 public schools in the province may be administered with the dengue vaccines but only as long as with the parents’ consent.

 A series of orientations about the school-based immunization started last December 2016 involving public health nurses, municipal health officers, and teachers, he added.

Nurses deployed by local government units had also been doing baseline surveys in schools to review dengue records in the past five years, in consultation with the school clinic personnel.

Blanco said the regional office is also looking forward for its Central Office to provide the guidelines that will concretize the protocols to be followed in administering the dengue immunization. These guidelines also lays down the basic roles and responsibilities of every stakeholder, such as the municipal health offices and the school administration. (FREEMAN)

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