Health officials to parents: submit children to oral polio vaccination

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By Danilo E. Doguiles

KORONADAL CITY, South Cotabato, Nov 13 (PIA) — “We strongly urge parents to submit their children aged 0 to 59 months to oral polio vaccination,” said Dr. Rogelio Aturdido Jr., provincial health officer, as he appealed for public support for the upcoming Sabayang Patak Kontra Polio.

Dr. Aturdido bared that from November 25 to December 7, health workers should be able to administer polio vaccine to at least 108,000 of the estimated 114,000 below 5-year old children in South Cotabato.

The two-week massive oral polio vaccination in South Cotabato and all provinces in Mindanao is in response to the Department of Health’s declaration of polio outbreak and subsequent order to conduct comprehensive vaccination against the disease.

“We have to cover at least 95% of 0 to 59-month-old children to achieve herd immunity against polio,” said Genesis Navales, immunization program focal person of the Integrated Provincial Health Office.

Herd immunity is a condition where enough individuals in a population have been immunized and able to protect those who have not been vaccinated against the pathogen.

From November 25, parents may bring their children to the nearest barangay health center for the vaccination.

To ensure greater coverage, health workers will bring the program to hard-to-reach sitios and puroks. They will also conduct house-to-house visitations to cover those who won’t be able to visit health centers.

IPHO plans to install vaccination centers were many children are brought such as malls, terminals, and parks.

“During the vaccination, each child will be given two drops of monovalent oral polio vaccine (mOPV) Type 2. As proof of administration, the child’s pinky finger will be marked with an indelible ink,” Navales said.

She emphasized that “children who have already received polio vaccination and those who are scheduled to get theirs in the coming weeks, will be given the oral polio vaccine.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Aturdido assured parents that the vaccine has been proven effective and safe and has been used by the World Health Organizations for decades.

“Vaccination is the most effective protection against poliomyelitis or polio,” Aturdido stressed. Sanitation and proper hygiene are also important to prevent one from contacting the virus, he emphasized.

According to World Health Organization, “polio is a highly infectious viral disease, which mainly affects children. The virus is transmitted by person-to-person spread mainly by faecal-oral route or, less frequently, by a common vehicle (e.g. contaminated water or food) and multiplies in the intestines from where it can invade the nervous system and can cause paralysis.

“Initial symptoms of polio include fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, stiffness in the neck, and pain in the limbs. In small proportion of cases, the disease causes paralysis, which is often permanent.”

On September 19, the Department of Health declared polio outbreak after recording a polio case involving a 3-year old in Lanao del Sur. This was the first case in the country in 19 years.

The second case was confirmed in Laguna in September and the third case in Maguindanao last month.

On November 5, DOH confirmed the fourth polio case, also in Maguindanao.

South Cotabato last recorded a polio case in 2015 but that, according to Provincial Epidemiology Surveillance Unit chief Cecil Lorenzo, “the case was ambiguous, meaning the child was shedding poliovirus but did not show any symptom of the disease.”

A second round of polio vaccination has been slated on January 6 to 18. (DED/PIAXII)