DOH urges parents: Have kids under 5 vaccinated amid polio re-emergence

September 21, 2019
Department of Health

THE Department of Health urged parents and caregivers of children below five years old, health workers, local government executives to take part in the department’s synchronized polio vaccination.

Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III made the call after a second polio case surfaced, adding that vaccination is the only way to stop the spread of polio, a debilitating and sometimes fatal disease.

“We continue to urge parents and caregivers of children below five years old, health workers, and local chief executives to take part in the synchronized polio vaccination to be scheduled in their communities. We repeat our call to parents and caregivers: Let us prioritize the complete vaccination of our children so they remain safe from vaccine-preventable diseases,” Duque said.

A five-year-old boy from Laguna was confirmed as the second polio case after samples sent to the Japan National Institute for Infectious Diseases turned positive for the polio virus. The first was a three-year-old girl from Lanao del Sur.

Duque  told the  public to practice good personal hygiene to avoid polio.

“We are also reiterating our advisory to the public to practice good personal hygiene, wash their hands regularly, to use toilets, drink safe water, and to cook food thoroughly,” he said.

Earlier this month, the DoH intensified its campaign to increase polio immunization coverage and strengthen disease surveillance to ensure that the Philippines remains polio-free. 

Duque said  while the Philippines has been certified as polio-free since 2000, the country is currently at high risk for poliovirus transmission based on the 2018 risk analysis of the National Certification Committee for Polio.

To make sure that no child has missed out on protection and to build community immunity against polio, the DoH will conduct three rounds of synchronized polio vaccination for all children under five years old regardless of their previous vaccination status.

The first round started last August 19.

Parents and caregivers are strongly urged to take their children to their local health centers for vaccination.

After the first round, the vaccination campaign will expand to all cities in the National Capital Region by October and eventually to other priority regions by November 2019.

As part of the regular vaccination schedule, all children under one year old should complete three doses of OPV and one dose of the Inactivated Polio Vaccine. The vaccination is free and will be administered by giving a child two drops of OPV by mouth.

In the effort to eliminate polio, OPV has been used in the country since 1980.

Polio is a fatal and disabling disease caused by the poliovirus.  The infection is transmitted through the fecal-oral route where environmental sanitation and personal hygiene are poor.

For example, if someone touches anything contaminated with human waste that has the virus, and then touches the mouth and eats food without washing their hands properly, the virus could enter through the mouth. There is no cure for the disease and complete vaccination is the best way to prevent it.  

The DoH also calls on all local government units to intensify the implementation of the “Zero Open Defecation” program and to strengthen the call for environmental sanitation and personal hygiene.