By Rey Anthony Chiu | 08:51 AM May 07, 2023

After three decades of zero-polio cases, the Philippines faces again an invisible enemy that can kill or at least cripple generations.

Polio, or poliomyelitis is a disabling viral disease that attacks the spinal cord, and causes muscle atrophy and deformities rendering the victim detained in bed or in severe cases, to death.

Polio has been among the preventable diseases by immunization.

According to the Department of Health (DOH) through Bohol Team Leader Dr. Portia Reyes, a recent random check done in the bodies of water in the Visayas confirmed the resurgence of the polio virus, one which has not been seen since the polio vaccination started in 1976.

Apart from polio, health authorities in the region have been alarmed by reports of suspected and confirmed cases of measles, again vaccine-preventable, Dr. Reyes said.

What has caused the problem?

As to the World Health Organization, the Philippines ranked second lowest among Asian countries on vaccination, one many ascribe to the disruption caused by the pandemic.

Bohol vaccination program coordinator and nurse at the Provincial Health Office Machiavellia Caliao confirmed that their teams had a hard time running the continuing vaccination campaign as parents thought it risky to get their COVID-vulnerable kids to the vaccination centers during those times.

PHO, in the last years reported low vaccination accomplishment, something that has potentially placed the kids in harm’s way.

Moreover, reports of lessened vaccine confidence has been noted in Philippine communities, including the unfounded apprehension that vaccines can have fatal effects, have saddled health workers.

With the problem, the DOH implements Chikiting Ligtas: Catch-up free Measles Rubella (MR) Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) Special Supplemental Immunization Program: a monthlong saturation immunization drive starting May 1-31.

Target for the nationwide vaccination drive are kids from zero months old to 59 months old, of newborn to below five year-olds, be they having been vaccinated already of the OPV MR, Caliao said.

Measles, also a vaccine-preventable disease, when left unattended could lead to broncho pneumonia and blindness while Rubella or sometimes called German measles, when it attacks a person can led to congenital anomalies, says Dr. Reyes.

The dire situation has pushed the DOH to implement the catch-up free supplemental OPV MR Special Immunization Activity which mobilizes the country’s extensive vaccination teams including Barangay Health Workers, to make sure that everyone kid is covered, Caliao, who leads the immunization activity reported.

This month, Bohol health authorities and vaccination teams hope to get to 123,000 kids which make up the 9 months old to 59 months old, be given the Measles Rubella subcutaneous shots.

As to the 0-9 months old babies, around 145,820 should have been reached and given the oral polio drops, Caliao shared.

While the local vaccination teams start scouring the country sides to get to those kids who have to be reached, first dose or supplemental, the threat of measles, rubella and polio lurk in the region, looking to attack that kid whose parents have been remiss in their responsibility, to gave their kid’s free vaccine dose. (rahc/PIA7/Bohol)

By Bohol Island News

Your reliable source of news and content in the island and the rest of Central Visayas and Mindanao.

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