Over 30,000 children in Tacloban were given vaccines against measles and polio through a massive vaccination campaign launched by the government, World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (Unicef).
Unicef Emergency Response Coordinator Angela Kearney said that 15 teams from foreign institutions, Department of Health, Philippine Red Cross and other non-governmental organizations participated in the vaccination drive.
“WHO and Unicef staff hand-carried supplies from Manila to Tacloban, coordinated teams to give the vaccines and trained them on how to do it under difficult circumstances. It is virtually unprecedented that within two and a half weeks of a disaster of this scale, with this level of devastation and these logistical challenges, that a mass vaccination campaign is already rolling out,” said Julie Hall, WHO Representative in the Philippines.
“The children of Tacloban need all the protection they can get right now. Disease is a silent predator, but we know how to prevent it and we will do everything that we can,” Kearney said.
The first to be given the shots were children in 20 evacuation centers such as San Jose Elementary School, where more than 300 families live in conditions that can heighten the risk of infectious diseases.
Unicef said vaccines worth more than $2 million were bought to replenish the vaccine stocks used in the campaign.
The UN group also screened children for malnutrition.