On the occasion of World Polio Day
MANILA, 24 October 2020 – In commemoration of World Polio Day today, UNICEF highlights the importance of vaccination to fulfill every child’s fundamental right to health. As the Philippines faces COVID-19 and another nationwide round of measles and polio campaign begins on October 26, UNICEF calls on all sectors of the society to work together to ensure that all children are immunized.
Polio, a deadly viral disease that was once the leading cause of paralysis among children worldwide, reemerged in the Philippines in 2019. To date, there are 17 confirmed cases of polio in the country. As a result of immunization challenges before and during the pandemic, the number of unvaccinated children in the Philippines continues to rise, putting communities at risk of disease outbreaks and child deaths.
UNICEF supports the Department of Health through vaccine procurement and delivery, development of immunization guidelines, social mobilization and building the capacity of DOH and LGU staff nationwide to plan and ensure that no child is missed.
An essential pillar of UNICEF’s work with the DOH involves risk communication and community engagement. As fear of COVID-19 infections and vaccine hesitancy threatens full immunization coverage, UNICEF helps to effectively communicate to parents and caregivers why immunization is important for children, and what information is correct and incorrect.
“No child should suffer or die from a disease that can be prevented by a vaccine that is available for free. For the upcoming campaign, please take your children to be immunized at vaccination points. Arm yourself with the right information so that your children can grow up healthy,” UNICEF Philippines Health and Nutrition Chief Malalay Ahmadzai says.
The nationwide Measles Rubella-Oral Polio Vaccine Supplemental Immunization (MR-OPV SIA) Activity will be rolled out in two phases. Phase 1 MR-OPV SIA 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 MR-OPV SIA 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.
Health workers are provided with Personal Protective Equipment and trained in Infection Prevention and Control to prevent COVID-19 infections to ensure safety of the health workers, parents and children.
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