DAVAO CITY: The Department of Health has allotted P17 million for the implementation of the mass immunization campaign against measles, polio, and rubella across Davao Region, targeting 1.7 million children from nine months to five years old.
Dr. Abdullah Dumama, regional director of the Department of Health in Southern Mindanao, also appealed to parents who are hesitant to have their children immunized because of faith or superstition.
“For the sake of your own children, and the other children in the community, have all them vaccinated. The vaccine is not against any religion and it will not bring harm to your children. Instead, it will help them, and ensure that they do not get measles or polio or rubella. Have mercy on your children,” he said.
Of the total number of target children, 200,000 are from Davao City. At least 10 children have already died because of measles in Davao Region, of them seven were from Davao City.
In North Cotabato, provincial health officer Dr. Eva Rabaya said the government has issued P500,000 for the immunization campaign targeting 340,000 children. She said the provincial government aims to immunize 95 percent of the target.
Nedaiza Niñal, DOH regional expanded program on immunization coordinator, said many children in Region 12 remain unvaccinated despite the high-level of consciousness of parents, particularly of mothers, of the necessity of the vaccine.
“We have already set good records in the past by having successful vaccination campaigns here in Region 12. But the challenge remains for us to completely conduct these immunizations to an even larger percentage or number of children not only here but in the whole country,” she said.
The Davao City Health Office has already dispatched community health workers to cover more than 180 villages of the city.
Armi Capili, the coordinator for Pulse Polio Immunization, also admitted that the hesitance of some parents is a problem for them.
“This is the reason why spend time to integrate with them, giving them information about the benefits of the vaccine not only for their children but for the entire community. They have to understand and realize the importance of having their children immunized,” she said.
Dumama said all children who were already vaccinated still need to be immunized now.
“The vaccine is safe and it will save your child’s life and the lives of other children in the community,” he said.
The vaccination is being done with the support of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the British government. In a released statement, the Prince of Wales and the Serum Institute have contributed more than 5 million doses of MR vaccine through the assistance of International Health Partners.
“All three diseases are preventable if children are vaccinated correctly,” said Dr. Julie Hall of WHO in a statement. “WHO is committed to a world in which nobody needs worry about the threats of measles, rubella or polio. We are delighted to support the mass immunization activity this month.”
British Ambassador Asif Ahmad said “both directly and as member of international institutions like WHO, Britain is making a determined effort to improve the life chances of young Filipinos.”
WHO has noted a significant reduction in measles and rubella transmission in 2012 after the mass immunization the year before.
“However, measles cases increased in 2013 leading to some significant outbreaks in the second half of the year and in early 2014,” WHO said. “These outbreaks required a series of vaccination interventions, including immediate outbreak response, a synchronized national vaccination and strengthening of the routine immunization program.”