MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) on Monday, October 14, began its catch-up vaccination campaign against polio for children 5 years old and below in various cities and provinces in Mindanao and in Metro Manila.
The synchronized vaccination against polio kicked off on Monday in Lanao del Sur, Marawi City, Davao City, Davao del Sur, and Metro Manila, and will run until October 27.
Other provinces in Mindanao will be covered from November 25 to December 7.
The campaign will involve door-to-door vaccination, as well as ensure that barangay health units and municipal health centers have enough supply of the polio vaccine. The DOH, together with partners Unicef and World Health Organization, is aiming to cover 1.8 million kids, regardless of vaccination status.
"We urge all parents and caregivers, health workers, and local government units to protect their children and communities against the poliovirus by participating in the synchronized vaccination in high-risk areas in Mindanao and in the National Capital Region," said Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.
Duque joined the campaign in Lanao del Sur, where the first case of polio in the Philippines in 19 years was confirmed last September.
The DOH on September 19 declared a polio outbreak after a confirmed case of the disease was found in a child from Lanao del Sur. The agency also found vaccine-derived poliovirus in environmental samples in the City of Manila and in Davao City.
Polio or poliomyelitis is a highly contagious disease caused by poliovirus invading the nervous system. Symptoms include fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, stiff neck, and sudden onset of floppy arms or legs. In severe cases, it can lead to permanent paralysis or even death.
Children below 5 years old are most vulnerable to the disease.
Vaccination is very important to combat the disease, the DOH has repeatedly said.
The health department found that polio vaccination for children below 5 years old dropped to less than 95% in 2018. The average national polio vaccination stands at about 66% to 68%.
The DOH is urging parents to get their kids vaccinated either during door-to-door activities or at their respective health centers, regardless of vaccination status. This means that even if children have already been vaccinated, additional doses can help them get fully protected.