Editorial: Failed

·2 min read

CEBU CITY showed dismal performance in its vaccination programs, specifically against dengue, measles and polio—life-threatening, highly contagious diseases. The program is into its final stretch this February. Tough luck.

The Department of Health (DOH) 7, as of Feb. 5, 2021, reports that the city fell short of its targeted 103,819 baby population against polio, having vaccinated only 9.97 percent of the target, or 10,351.

The city aims to immunize against measles 87,921 babies, but had only jabbed around 10.37 percent, or 9,120.

City Health Department officer-in-charge Jeffrey Ibones attributes the low immunization rate to the Covid-19 pandemic, public resistance to vaccines and, yes, the weather.

As of now, Ibones said, the vaccination program had not rolled out in 20 of the city’s 80 barangays—Guadalupe, Tisa, Inayawan and Basak. These are areas that have high incidences of Covid-19.

The rainy season as well hampered efforts to go to barangays that are quite inaccessible. The other reason is that there is strong resistance to the program. Citizens refuse to submit their children to immunization for fear that the vaccines will only do them more harm than good. It didn’t help that stories of deaths from vaccines circulate.

“Many of the residents have been traumatized by what happened with Dengvaxia. Some refuse to let their children and grandchildren be vaccinated because they’re afraid of what will happen to them,” said Ibones.

As he said that, Mandaue City topped the measles-rubella vaccine coverage record, having vaccinated 28.96 percent of its targeted 34,559. The city’s oral-polio coverage reached 27.35 percent of its 40,802 target population.

While Cebu City has denser demographics, it might also have the larger resources to deploy a fleet of program implementers.

With only a trickle of the targeted figures immunized, we’re down to a terrible setback in public health. Isn’t the rainy season supposed to be the reason to fast-track the dengue vaccination program? Dengue-carrier mosquitoes feast in damp season. Has our immunization program not been designed with the challenges—weather, pandemic, misconceptions—already ruled in?

Convenient excuse for the office that is tasked to ensure our young population is adequately armed against otherwise preventable diseases. But it failed. Terribly, as the figures showed.