MANILA, Philippines — A health official has warned that the polio outbreak in the country has yet to be placed under control, while a major measles outbreak is imminent without a massive immunization campaign.
“[This year] is very critical because of the accumulation of susceptibles. It is highly possible that we will experience a very big outbreak if we do not do something to increase the immunity against measles as well as rubella,” said Dr. Maria Wilda Silva, head of the Department of Health’s (DOH) National Immunization Program.
In a press briefing on Monday, Silva said despite the pandemic, 4,051,497 children between 9 and 59 months old were vaccinated last year in 11 regions against measles and rubella, representing 92.9 percent of the targeted 4.36 million kids.
Bicol accounted for the highest number of children who were inoculated with 559,435 or 90.2 percent out of the target of 620,369. The Cordillera Autonomous Region vaccinated the least number of children with 135,004 or 86.7 percent out of the 155,721 target.
On the other hand, 1,909,963 or 89.2 percent of 2.14 million children from newborn to 59 months old were given the polio vaccine in five regions, also last year.
Bicol again inoculated the highest number of children with 640,923 or 88.7 percent of the 722,518 target, while Cagayan Valley vaccinated the lowest number of children with 155,282 or 85.3 percent of the 182,036. target
The immunization drive also covered the Ilocos regions, Mimaropa and Mindanao. It was conducted from Oct. 26 to Nov. 27 last year to stave off a looming measles and polio outbreak.
Silva paid tribute to “our vaccinators in the field, the local governments, all our midwives, nurses and municipal and city health officers for [their] efforts and dedication.”
For the second phase of the immunization drive from Feb. 1 to 28, the DOH will target more children in Metro Manila, Calabarzon, Central Luzon, and three regions in the Visayas. It aims to vaccinate 5.1 million children between 9 and 59 months old against measles, and 4.77 million infants up to 59 months old against polio.