Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said synchronized polio immunization will start in the city of Manila and will be expanded to other areas in Metro Manila and then to other priority regions.
A Majeed/AFP
DOH launches synchronized polio vaccination
Mayen Jaymalin (The Philippine Star) - August 19, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Amid threats of polio resurgence in the country, the Department of Health (DOH) is mounting a synchronized polio vaccination campaign starting today.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said synchronized polio immunization will start in the city of Manila and will be expanded to other areas in Metro Manila and then to other priority regions.

“We repeat our call to parents and caregivers: back to bakuna. Una sa lahat, bakuna. Complete vaccination is the best preventive measure against polio,” Duque said, using the local term for shots.

Duque stressed the need for children under one year old to complete their three doses of oral poliovirus vaccines (OPV) and one dose of the inactivated polio vaccine.

The country, Duque said, faces the threat of losing its polio-free status due to recent drop in OPV coverage.

Based on DOH data, the coverage for the third dose of OPV has fallen below the required 95 percent to ensure population protection against debilitating disease.

“Unless we act quickly in putting our surveillance on alert to detect signs of poliovirus transmission, in strengthening our immunization program, and in improving environmental hygiene and sanitation, we risk losing our polio-free status,” Duque said.

Philippines has been polio-free for the past 19 years, but Duque said the country is at risk of importing the virus from neighboring countries where the infection has recently been found to have recirculated.

“The health and future of our children are at risk due to a disease, which otherwise could have been prevented,” Duque said in a statement.

Duque said the DOH is adopting measures that will enhance polio prevention measures in the country. One of the preventive measures is the polio immunization campaign for all children under five years old.

He said there will also be strengthened surveillance of children below five years old, who developed sudden onset of muscle weakness or paralysis of the upper and lower extremities.

The DOH said surveillance on acute flaccid paralysis has also been consistently poor while the practice of open defecation and poor sanitation have been persisting in communities.

Polio is a potentially fatal and disabling disease caused by poliovirus, which is transmitted when there is poor environmental sanitation and hygiene.

Duque urged all local government units nationwide to intensify the implementation of the Zero Open Defecation program and to strengthen the call for environmental sanitation and personal hygiene, such as frequent handwashing.

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH ORAL POLIOVIRUS VACCINES POLIO
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