DOH targets to vaccinate about 3.5 million children in Mindanao against polio

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 21) — The Department of Health said it targets to vaccinate about 3.5 million children in Mindanao to prevent the spread of polio amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is part of the department’s latest Sabayang Patak Kontra Polio campaign that started Monday. DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said Tuesday in a press conference that this will run until August.

Polio is an infectious disease that in some cases cause permanent paralysis, usually of the legs.

Dr. Abdullah Dumama Jr., health undersecretary for field implementation and coordination team of Visayas and Mindanao, said 634,832 children under the age of 5 were vaccinated on the first day.

Meanwhile, World Health Organization Representative Dr. Ramindra Abeyasinghe said aside from Mindanao, the campaign will also cover Central Luzon and parts of CALABARZON.

Dumama added that it is important to also address this issue amid the COVID-19 pandemic since polio, and other diseases, continue to spread.

Both officials reminded parents to have their children vaccinated to prevent another outbreak that will be an added challenge amid the fight against COVID-19.

The Philippines was polio-free for 19 years, but the disease resurfaced last year due to lack of immunization and other environmental issues, Vergeire said.

An outbreak was declared by the health department in September 2019 following a single reported case of the disease. A single confirmed case in a polio-free nation automatically calls for a declaration of an outbreak.