TACLOBAN CITY — The Department of Health (DOH) is targeting more than 600,000 children in Eastern Visayas that will be given with polio and measles vaccines this month, representing a minimum of 85 percent of the target population.
Department of Health regional director Jose Llacuna said state-run hospitals, health centers, village halls, churches and other facilities will be opened for the 30-day mass vaccination reaching out zero to five years old children.
For oral polio vaccination, some 612,796 children will be covered while 522,011 will be provided with measles vaccines. A child can receive both immunizations.
“The target is 100 percent coverage, but 85 percent is good enough. Logistics have been provided to local government units in preparation for the campaign,” Llacuna said in a press briefing at Ritz Tower de Leyte on Monday.
The health department has mapped out strategies to achieve the target on a weekly basis from September 1 to 30.
In Eastern Visayas, the mass immunization will be augmented with workers from the international humanitarian organization carrying out the Yolanda response plan.
The first dose of vaccine with seven shots and three drops should be given between nine to 11 months. The next dose is at 12 months, which is the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine.
The first vaccine gives the population 85 percent protection while the second dose of measles gives the additional 15 percent protection.
“This is just a booster. Even if a child was given vaccine last month, they have to be covered to boost their immunity,” said Health Assistant Secretary Paulynn Jean B. Rosell-Ubial.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease, which affects mostly children. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is transmitted via droplets from the nose, mouth or throat of infected persons.
The WHO added that the initial symptoms, which usually appear 10–12 days after infection, include high fever, runny nose, bloodshot eyes, and tiny white spots on the inside of the mouth. Several days later, a rash develops, starting on the face and upper neck and gradually spreading downwards.
Meanwhile, polio is a highly infectious viral disease, which mainly affects young children. The virus is transmitted by person-to-person spread mainly through the faecal-oral route or, less frequently, by a common vehicle and multiplies in the intestine.
Fatal cases invade the nervous system and can cause paralysis.
The WHO explained that initial symptoms of polio include fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, stiffness in the neck, and pain in the limbs. In a small proportion of cases, the disease causes paralysis, which is often permanent.
“There is no cure for polio and it can only be prevented through immunization,” said Dr. Benjamin Lane, health cluster head of the WHO Yolanda response.
The WHO has identified Philippines as high risk for polio importation because of the low oral polio vaccine and poor surveillance.
The oral polio vaccine, on the other hand, was considered in this year’s campaign to lessen the risk of wild polio virus spread due to importation from polio endemic countries. New strain of the polio virus has surfaced in Pakistan and Afghanistan, according to DOH officials.
The massive vaccination is a partnership between the DOH, WHO, United Nations Children’s Fund, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.