Davao City behind schedule in immunization drive

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/15 September) — Davao City was behind its own schedule of reaching at least 50% of immunization coverage for measles, rubella, and polio by the second week of September, according to the Department of Health.

In an SMS, DOH XI regional director Abdullah Dumama said immunization coverage for measles and rubella for the region was only 48%, and 47% for polio as of September 12.

For Davao City, immunization coverage for measles was 43% and 42% for polio for the same period.

Speaking Friday at the Philippine Press Institute Health Forum at the Royal Mandaya Hotel, DOH officer-in-charge for health education Mary Divene Hilario said District D in poblacion was the only area that exceeded 50% coverage, at 53% by the end of last week.

Talomo North only reached 21%. The other areas with low coverage were Buhangin and Bunawan, as well as barangays in Baguio, Calinan and Marilog, Hilario said.

Tugbok, meanwhile, reached 68%, with the district predicted to sustain the coverage targets for the rest of the month.

Hilario said that the DOH was still validating the data that the agencies have gathered so far, in coordination with barangay health workers and barangay nutrition scholars helping the rapid assessment teams determine whether there were children who did not get immunized.

“We will ask the teams to go back to the homes that have children who were not immunized,” she said, adding the agency would not allow even one child to miss the shot.

Hilario said the data gathering was done every hour and that they would place indelible ink on a child’s finger as proof that he or she had been immunized.

She said there were parents who still did not understand that it was necessary for their children to get vaccinated due to fear of needles or lack of awareness.

From January to August 23, the city had 176 confirmed cases of measles out of 2,542 suspected cases.

“In 2013, for the same period, we only had 145 suspected cases,” Hilario said.

According to the Comprehensive Investment Plan for Health, the CHO’s road map for handling health cases in the city, the ideal immunization coverage for each district is 95% to protect children from the highly communicable diseases.

Earlier, the CHO registered the highest report for measles cases in Talomo North, Talomo South and Buhangin.

The three districts had the highest cases due to its density, CHO immunization officer Armi Capili explained.

She said the spike could be attributed to the highly contagious nature of the disease, with each case capable of contaminating up to 20 people.

In 2012, there were only four confirmed cases in Davao City, which Capili attributed to an intensified immunization campaign in 2011. In 2013, the number rose to 50.

As of August 8, incidences of measles in Talomo North numbered 201, while Buhangin and Talomo South had 133 and 116 reported cases at the time.

Eleven had died from the disease as of August 23.

The danger is not in the disease itself but in complications such as blindness, deafness, dehydration, pneumonia, and encephalitis, DOH officials said. (MindaNews)