Earlier this week WHO presented the Philippine Department of Health with equipment and supplies that will contribute to the nationwide effort to protect children against measles, rubella and polio. All three diseases can cause suffering and death but are preventable if children are correctly vaccinated. During the whole month of September 2014 there will be a nationwide mass immunization activity against measles, rubella and polio. The aim of this campaign is to bring measles in the country down to very low levels and move towards measles elimination throughout the Philippines, reduce rubella rates and support efforts to keep the Philippines polio-free.
The Philippines has a long history of conducting immunization campaigns and maintaining routine coverage for measles vaccine but there are still many children who need vaccination. Since the last measles mass immunization in 2011 the country initially had a significant reduction in measles and rubella transmission in 2012. However, measles cases increased in 2013 leading to some significant outbreaks in the second half of the year and in early 2014. These outbreaks required a series of vaccination interventions including immediate outbreak response, a synchronised national vaccination campaign and strengthening of the routine immunization programme.
Regardless of previous vaccination status, as part of the September mass immunization, every child 9 months to below 5 years old will receive one dose of the combined measles and rubella vaccine and every child aged 0 to below 5 years old will receive two drops of the oral polio vaccine.
The campaign is being led by the Philippine Department of Health with support from the World Health Organization, UNICEF and many other partner organizations including BRAC, Latter Days Saints, International Health Partners, Serum Institute of India, Red Cross, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Lions Club, Rotary International Philippines, Rotary International 2650 Japan, and US Center for Disease Control (USCDC).
The role of the WHO in the mass immunization is to provide technical support to the Philippine Department of Health in the design and implementation of the campaign and the monitoring of its effectiveness. Additionally, the following supplies and equipment were presented by WHO to DOH on August 18, 2014: one million doses measles rubella vaccine, syringes, safety boxes, vaccine carriers, cold boxes, ice pack freezers and equipment to publicize the campaign.
Key Facts for Parents
- Regardless of previous immunization status, every child 9 months to below 5 years old will receive one dose of the measles/rubella vaccine while every child aged 0 to below 5 years old will receive two drops of oral polio vaccine.
- The vaccines are safe and effective.
- The vaccines are FREE of charge.
- Get your child vaccinated as soon as possible – it takes 28 days after receiving the vaccine to achieve the highest level of protection against measles.
- Receiving repeated doses of the vaccines do not pose any danger to your child.
- Wherever you live, make sure that your children are fully protected against measles – that means that they have received two doses of measles vaccine. For polio protection, a minimum of three doses is required.
- Bring your children regularly for routine immunization so they can also receive the other vaccines in a timely fashion; your health worker can give you all the necessary information.