By Erma Edera
The Department of Health (DOH) has urged mothers and caregivers of children five years old and younger to get their children vaccinated through the “patak” polio immunization in health centers.
According to DOH Assistant Secretary Maria Rosario Vergeire of the Public Health Services Team, they were “only able to reach 54 percent of their target” after the first round of Synchronized Polio Vaccination conducted in Manila last August 19 to 31.
“This is unacceptable, this is far below the required 95 percent,” Vergeire said in a statement.
The DOH said they also conducted Rapid Coverage Assessment to identify several factors why some eligible children were unvaccinated during the implementation of “patak” polio immunization.
DOH said 41 percent of the results showed most parents or caregivers of the unvaccinated children said that they, or the child, were not around during the vaccination schedule.
Other factors included parents and caregivers not being aware of the vaccination activity; or that they were not around during the schedule and caregivers could not make the decision; their children were sick; or that they already had their children vaccinated by a private doctor.
Some parents and caregivers also cited their lack of trust in barangay health workers and lack of trust in the vaccine for refusing vaccination, DOH said.
“There is no cure for polio. It can only be prevented with three doses of the polio vaccine that are safe and effective,” Vergeire said.
“Vaccination is the best way to protect your child against vaccine-preventable diseases such as polio, measles, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, and tuberculosis, among others,” the health official added.
Last Sept. 19, the DOH declared the resurgence of polio after 19 years of being declared polio-free due to plummeting immunization coverage.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said polio was a highly infectious disease that can be transmitted through oral-fecal route.
It can manifest as sudden onset of muscular weakness or paralysis, difficulty breathing and may cause deaths among affected population.