‘Quinta,’ COVID stall polio, measles vaccination drive

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    COUNT the measles, rubella, and polio immunization drive of the Department of Health (DOH) among the casualties of typhoon “Quinta” and the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

    In an online press briefing, DOH National Immunization Program Manager Dr. Maria Wilda Silva pointed to “Quinta” and the pandemic as the main factors why the expected turnout for the measles, rubella, and polio vaccination drive that started last Monday was way below expectations.

    “Some regions were badly affected by Quinta… The coverage in Luzon, particularly Regions 4B and 5, most of their provinces were affected by the typhoon and we received reports of families staying in evacuation sites,” said Silva.

    “In BARMM, some were not performing very well. The reason here is the province Lanao del Sur, including Marawi City, has postponed the campaign because of increasing number of COVID-19 cases,” she added.

    DOH data showed that the measles-rubella (MR) vaccine coverage and oral polio vaccine (OPV) coverage in MIMAROPA were both 1.1 percent only. In the Bicol Region, the MR and OPV vaccines reached only 0.7 percent of their targets.

    The MR coverage in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) showed a low five percent.

    “For the first two days, the cumulative target should be 16 percent, because we had wanted to reach eight percent per day,” Silva said.

    She said they are looking to establish vaccination posts in different evacuation centers in typhoon-hit areas.

    “We are already coordinating with local government units that if ever there are target vaccinees in evacuation centers, they can be utilized as temporary sites to provide MR and OPV vaccines,” said Silva.

    As for Lanao del Sur and Marawi City, she said they have decided to reset the commencement of the campaign depending on the date of the easing of the localized lockdown.

    “The tentative date for the conduct of the campaign is November 3 for Lanao del Sur, and November 9 for Marawi City,” she said.

    Last October 26, the DOH launched the immunization drive in the Cordillera Administrative Region, Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, MIMAROPA, and Bicol Regions in Luzon, targeting children 9-59 months old for MR and 0-59 months old for OPV.

    Simultaneously, the DOH launched the MR vaccination campaign in Mindanao targeting children 9-59 months old.