Davao City still far from immunization rate target as deadline nears

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/24 September) – The city was still lagging behind all local government units in Region XI in terms of immunization coverage a week before the month-long nationwide campaign to fight measles, rubella and polio ends this month, the Department of Health said.

In a telephone interview, Mary Divene Hilario, DOH officer-in-charge for information said the City Health Office had only reached 57% of its target for measles and 56% for polio as of Monday noon.

Davao City even had a lower coverage rate than Compostela Valley’s 66%, the second lowest in the region.

The coverage for Davao City translated to only 105,404 children vaccinated against measles and 121,226 against polio.

Hilario said the region as a whole had reached 68% coverage for measles and 67% for polio, adding their units were now scrambling to reach their respective targets by the end of the month.

She assured that children aged 0-59 months old in every barangay in the region would be accounted for and reached by their field personnel by going back to areas not previously covered.

The ideal coverage percentage for each area in the region was 95%, according to the DOH.

Davao Oriental has the highest immunization coverage with 83% for measles and 81% for polio, followed by Davao del Norte and Davao del Sur.

Lower figures for the city, especially in the health districts of Buhangin, Sasa, Bunawan, and Talomo (North, South and Central), have sent the City Health Office scrambling to meet its immunization coverage targets.

By mid-September the DOH reported that the city had only attained a 48% rate or 2% short of its target. The figure was also the lowest in Region XI halfway through the immunization period.

Hilario said the vaccination campaign was supposed to end on Sept. 30 but pointed out that the city needed to conduct “mop-up” operations until October 3 to reach children who were not vaccinated during the period.

“We have only vaccinated 115,000 children as of Tuesday,” she said.

Davao City was targeting to vaccinate around 200,000 children.

Hilario said among the factors for the low immunization rate in the city are the absence of either the children or the parents at home and the refusal of caretakers to have their wards vaccinated in the parents’ absence.

She said that as of September 15, there had been 13 deaths attributed to measles, with 2,688 suspected cases and 210 confirmed to be positive of the disease. (MindaNews)