MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) has launched a targeted vaccination campaign in two provinces in Mindanao after a fourth polio case was reported on a 3-year-old girl from Sultan Kudarat province.
Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo on Wednesday (06 November 2019) said the DOH will start off an oral polio vaccine (OPV) drive in Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat for the second immunization campaign on Nov. 25 because the third and fourth polio cases were recorded in these two provinces.
A 4-year-old girl in Datu Piang, the latest case did not receive any OPV dose and contracted the Type 2 strain of the vaccine-derived polio virus, which requires three doses.
While polio is transmitted through the fecal-oral route and it is not curable, only vaccination can provide protection against infection.
Children should receive three separate OPV doses—one each at 6, 10 and 14 weeks old.
A single shot of the inactivated polio vaccine is given at the same time as the third OPV dose to be fully protected.
According to the health officials, the polio outbreak emerged because of low immunization rate, poor sanitation and personal hygiene, and dismal surveillance of acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) cases.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines AFP as the sudden onset of paralysis or weakness in any part of the body of a child below 15 years old.
Looking for and detecting these cases is crucial, even for countries where there are no polio cases, as part of the global strategy to eradicate the debilitating disease.
The AFP report rate should be 1 per 100,000 children under 15. But in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, where three of the four polio cases originated, AFP surveillance was only 0.3. Nationwide, the reported rate was 0.44.
Last month, the DOH launched a supplemental OPV drive for children under-5 in Metro Manila and in the provinces of Lanao del Sur and Davao del Sur and in the cities of Davao and Marawi.
Communities must have immunization coverage rate of at least 95 percent to prevent polio from spreading.
In Mindanao, Davao City recorded the highest coverage with 188,675 children vaccinated, surpassing the DOH target by 1 percent. Davao del Sur’s coverage rate was 92 percent (66,777), while Lanao del Sur’s was 85 percent (143,164).
Domingo said they were working with local authorities in distributing toiletry kits and ensuring that sanitation and hygiene at the evacuation sites in Mindanao, were up to standard to reduce the likelihood of any disease outbreak. (Cate Pallarco/IAMIGO/CNS)