Polio vaccination drive in Mindanao extended


    THE Department of Health has extended for another week the Synchronized Oral Polio Vaccine campaign in Mindanao to enable health workers to conduct mopping-up operations in selected areas where the immunization coverage remains low.

    DOH Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje said the vaccination campaign, supposed to have ended last Dec. 7, will now end on Dec. 13.

    “The Round 2 (of the campaign) in Mindanao will be extended for one more week so that we can do mop-ups in selected areas where the immunization coverage remains low,” said Cabotaje.

    She said the extension is necessary because they want to make sure that all children aged five and below will be covered, especially with all but one of the eight confirmed polio cases coming from Mindanao.

    “It is important that we adequately plow Mindanao because most of the polio cases came from that area. Our rapid coverage assessment indicates that many children there remain unvaccinated,” said Cabotaje, adding the peace and order situation in Mindanao makes it highly likely that health workers were not able to reach all target recipients.

    “Because the population in Mindanao is very mobile because of the peace and order situation and the calamities, we are concerned that there are delays in the administration of vaccines,” said Cabotaje.

    The newest round of the polio vaccination campaign started last Nov. 25 in Metro Manila and Mindanao.

    Cabotaje said the vaccination campaign in the Metro Manila won’t be extended.

    “The three rounds (of vaccination) for NCR is finished. There will just be collection of environmental samples from sewage treatment plants,” she said.

    Cabotaje added they have decided to push back the holding of the third and final round of the vaccination campaign in Mindanao.

    Set to start on January 6 next year, she said the two-week campaign will instead start on January 20.

    “This is to give our health workers enough time (to prepare) after the long Christmas holiday,” said Cabotaje.