Sarangani optimistic to hit target for polio vaccination

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ALABEL, Sarangani (January 28) – Sarangani has immunized 60,525 children or 85% against its target of 70,816 children under five years old for the first week since it resumed vaccination on January 22.

“It is a good start for all of us,” Razel Bustria, Sarangani Province’s National Immunization Program coordinator, told Sarangani Provincial Information Office in an update regarding the continuing anti-polio vaccination which they hope to hit again more than 95% accomplishment.

This is the third round synchronized mass immunization for other regions but for Sarangani, it is providing its second dose for monovalent oral poliovirus vaccine or MOPV.

But Sarangani is set to conduct another vaccination in April for the bivalent oral poliovirus or BOPV which protects kids from types one and two viruses that mainly caused the outbreak in the Philippines according to Getnet Abie Abtew, World Health Organization (WHO) Philippines Country Office consultant.

Sarangani was leading among provinces in Region 12 during the first round of the mass immunization dubbed as “Sabayang Patak Kontra Polio” last year obtaining 99.71% or 70,612 children that Dr. Arvin Alejandro, Sarangani Provincial Health Officer, reported to have been “protected” from the disease.

Alejandro said mobilizing key stakeholders to support the campaign had raised their accomplishment during the vaccination last November 25 to December 17.

Abtew said Sarangani’s accomplishment for the first round mass vaccination “is very interesting, very high coverage.”

He then accounted “13 positive cases” in the Philippines. “We have four positive cases in Region 12, one from Cotabato City, one from North Cotabato and two from Sultan Kudarat” and other nine cases from BARMM region.”

“Increment is gradual but it is not going down” Abtew said as he accounted that one case from Sultan Kudarat and two cases from BARMM region out of the 13 cases he reported were just discovered this January.

“That means BARMM and Region 12 are highly affected by this outbreak,” he said.

The Philippines was free of polio around 20 years but an outbreak was declared again last September.

Polio is a contagious disease caused by poliovirus that in its most severe form causes nerve injury leading to paralysis, difficulty in breathing, and sometimes death.

Glan Mayor Vivien Yap, a physician, explained polio as preventable disease “but once the child is affected with polio especially with paralysis, you cannot bring back or cure paralysis anymore. Henceforth it is but necessary for us to do polio vaccination in all children of each barangay, each municipality and each province.”

In Sarangani, the first round mass immunization kicked-off in Glan.

In the previous Local Health Board meeting, Mayor Yap urged support for sanitation as a preventive aspect also to hold the transmission of the polio virus.

Similar to the previous immunization, administration of anti-polio vaccines until February 2 will be done in straight two weeks including weekends, Alejandro said, as he continuously urged barangay officials in Sarangani, the local chief executives and other partners to support the campaign.

“We need to sustain the more than 95% herd immunity so that we will really be able to hold the transmission of the disease. That is the only way to prevent the transmission of the disease,” Alejandro said.

Polio immunization for dose 3 in Sarangani in the past, according to Alejandro, was calculated at only 74% due to lack of vaccines.

Alejandro said children should have been immunized with three doses of polio vaccine before reaching one year old. “But for Sarangani province basically because of lack of logistics before, nasa 74% lang” which he accounted to only 50,000 to 55,000 immunized children.

All vaccines for polio came from WHO and are administered for free.

Alejandro said polio vaccines are unavailable in private facilities hence the president of the Pediatric Association in the Philippine has called on all the pediatricians to subject their clients to any health facility where the vaccines will be given for free. (Beverly C. Paoyon/SARANGANI COMMUNICATIONS SERVICE)