The Department of Health, together with the Local Government Units, will conduct a nationwide measles, rubella and polio supplemental immunization activity starting October 26 this year.
In the Philippines, an estimated 2.4M children under the age of five are susceptible for measles. Measles or tigdas is one of the most contagious diseases in the world. About 9 out of 10 people exposed to the measles virus who are not immune will contract the disease. It can cause high-grade fever, rashes, cough, eye infection and can lead to complications such as pneumonia, ear infection, blindness, severe diarrhea, and swelling of the brain.
Polio, on the other hand, is a potentially debilitating disease that causes fever, neck stiffness, muscle weakness and can eventually lead to lifelong paralysis. There is an ongoing outbreak of polio with cases reported from Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP) surveillance and presence of environmental samples with poliovirus. If severe enough, both diseases can ultimately lead to death. There is no specific treatment for these illnesses. The only reliable protection is through vaccination.
The nationwide Measles Rubella - Oral Polio Vaccine Supplemental Immunization (MR-OPV SIA) Activity will be rolled out in two phases. Phase 1 will be conducted from 26 October to 25 November 2020 in Mindanao Regions, Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley Region, MIMAROPA Region, and Bicol Region.
Phase 2 will be conducted in February 2021 in Visayas Regions, National Capital Region, Central Luzon, and CALABARZON. Children 9-59 months old will be given Measles - Rubella vaccine while 0-59 months old will be provided with oral Polio vaccine.
“Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, a high-quality immunization activity is urgently needed to avert a possible measles outbreak in 2021 and halt the ongoing polio recirculation in communities. We encourage parents and caregivers to have their children immunized”, Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III said, emphasizing that the measles, rubella and polio vaccines are safe, effective and free.
In order to be protected against COVID-19 infections, the Health Chief assured that all healthcare workers have been trained on infection prevention and control and provided with Personal Protective Equipment.
“Vaccines save lives and prevent disabilities from diseases. Vaccines give our children a good start at life so they can grow to be healthy, productive adults in the future. Therefore, no child should be left behind,” Sec Duque said.