DOH reached polio vaccination target – Duque

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) said it reached its target for the catch-up vaccination campaign against polio conducted in various parts of the country in October.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III told reporters Tuesday, October 29, that the DOH covered 95.4% or roughly 1.7 million of the 1.8 million kids aged 5 below who were eyed to receive the oral polio vaccine (OPV). 

In Metro Manila, 96% or around 1.1 million out of of 1.2 million kids aged 5 and below were vaccinated, while in Mindanao 93.6% or around 650,00 out of of 700,000 kids received OPV, the health secretary said. Duque added that the DOH would release more detailed statistics on the vaccination campaign soon. (READ: EXPLAINER: What is polio?)

The DOH on October 14 began its catch-up vaccination campaign against polio for children 5 years old and below in Metro Manila, Lanao del Sur, Marawi City, Davao City, and Davao del Sur. The first round of the catch-up campaign concluded on Sunday, October 27, but a second round will cover other provinces in Mindanao from November 25 to December 7.

The DOH would also conduct a polio vaccination drive in Datu Piang, Maguindanao, from November 4 to 8, targeting 4,254 children, after it confirmed another case of polio there Monday, October 28. 

This latest development brings the number of polio cases in the Philippines to 3 since the outbreak was announced in September. Two of the 3 cases were found in Mindanao. 

Another case, with stool samples also coming from Mindanao, is awaiting confirmation from the National Institute of Infectious Diseases in Japan. Duque said the confirmation may come early next week. 

The country was declared polio-free since October 2000, with the last case of poliovirus reported in 1993.

"It is really very important to ensure that children will be covered with the proper vaccines so that they are protected from vaccine-preventable diseases," Duque said. 

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. –