DOH 7 to immunize 1.5M kids vs. childhood preventable diseases

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THE Department of Health in Central Visayas (DOH 7) is targeting toimmunize more than 1.5 million children against preventable diseases such as measles, polio and rubella.

Dr. Joan Antonette Albito, medical coordinator of the DOH 7’s National Immunization Program, said they hope to secure their targets for this year during their month-long Measles, Rubella and Poliomyelitis Supplemental Immunization Activity (SIA) Phase 2 starting Jan. 29, 2021.

The SIA Phase 2 will be launched in Consolacion, Cebu on Jan. 29, Albito told reporters during a virtual briefing on Monday, Jan. 25.

Albito said they are targeting to immunize 815,641 children ages zero to 59 months against poliomyelitis and another 693,210 children ages nine to 59-months-old against measles and rubella.

Albito said the supplemental immunization is intended to complement and not replace routine immunization.

She said the objective of these campaigns is to catch children who are either non-immunized or only partially protected against these diseases and to boost immunity in those who have already been vaccinated.

“This way, every child in the most susceptible age group, regardless of previous immunization status is protected (and) at the same time to interrupt the transmission and circulation of the virus,” Albito said.

Poliomyelitis or “polio” is a viral disease which invades the nervous system and can cause total paralysis. It is transmitted person-to-person and is spread mainly through the fecal-oral route and can spread through contaminated water or food.

The World Health Organization recommends that countries conduct surveillance for cases of Acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) as a means to eradicate polio.

AFP is a sudden onset of paralysis or weakness in any part of the body of a child below 15 years old.

Albito recalled that the country has declared polio free in the early 2000; however, in September 2019, the DOH declared an outbreak in the country after it confirmed an AFP case in a three-year-old girl from Lanao del Sur who has now recovered, but still has residual paralysis.

The DOH 7 recorded 58 AFP cases from Jan. 1 to Dec. 26, 2020.

Of the 58 cases, 54 cases are classified as non-polio AFP cases while four are still awaiting classification. No deaths were attributed to polio as of last year.

This is 41.4 percent higher compared to 41 cases and two deaths recorded on the same period of 2019.

Albito said the DOH 7 logged a total of 101 Measles-Rubella (MR) cases with zero deaths in the region between Jan. 1 to Dec. 26, 2020. This is 96 percent lower compared to that of 2019 which has a total of 2,310 total MR cases and 18 deaths.

Measles is a highly contagious viral disease, transmitted via droplets from the nose, mouth or throat of infected persons.

Albito said there has been a decline of cases by more than 50 percent from 2014 to 2018, until the DOH declared a measles outbreak in five regions of the country, including Central Visayas, in early 2019.

She said SIA is important noting the decline in MCV and OPV immunization coverage in the first three quarters of 2020. From a 60 percent OPV1 coverage and 59 percent OPV3 coverage in 2019, the immunization coverage in OPV 1 and 2 was only at 39 percent and 38 percent in 2020 while the MCV 1 and 2 immunization coverage also went down to 36. 8 percent and 32.9 percent in 2020 from 61 percent and 54.82 percent in 2019.

The first phase of SIA in the region was conducted from Oct. 26 to Nov. 25, 2020. (WBS)