DOH-XI reaches 95% immunization target vs measles

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 9 Oct) – The Department of Health Region XI has achieved its target of reaching 95-percent immunization against measles as of Wednesday, according to the agency’s regional director.

In a text message, DOH XI Regional Director Abdullah Dumama said immunization coverage regionwide has reached 95 percent for measles rubella and 92 percent for vaccination against polio.

DOH, along with Davao’s City Health Office, scrambled to reach targets when it found out early into the massive immunization program on measles rubella and oral polio vaccination (MROPV) that it had not achieved initial targets during the first three weeks of September, set nationwide as a vaccination period.

On the third week of September, the region was still at 68-percent coverage for measles and 67 percent for polio.

Public health information officer Mary Divene Hilario said in a telephone interview Thursday the DOH had moved the deadline from the end of September to the first week of October for mop up operations.

“We were instructed to reach our targets and look for the children so that they can be immunized,” Hilario said, adding that this was the third deadline that the agency set.

Initially pegging the deadline at October 3, the DOH had seen October 7 as the next deadline for the mop up operations before finally settling with October 10.

As of the third week of September, Davao City shared the lowest rungs among the provinces and cities in the region, along with Compostela Valley, at only 57-percent coverage to Comval’s 66 percent.

Hilario said the final breakdown of the coverage data would be released Friday afternoon.

Dumama, meanwhile, said that the region is aiming to reach a 96-percent coverage.

The target for 95 percent would ensure that an area is protected against diseases like measles and polio.

In September, children aged 0-59 months were visited and accounted for nationwide for the immunization program, regardless of the children’s vaccination history.

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

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.