GenSan extends immunization drive for 10 days

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/01 September) — Health authorities have extended the supplemental mass immunization activities for measles, rubella and polio in the city to 10 more days in a bid to fully reach their targets.

Dr. Edgardo Sandig, City Health Office (CHO) chief, said Wednesday they will continue with the immunization activities within the city’s 26 barangays until October 10 to ensure that they cover all eligible infants and children in the area.

He said they are still consolidating the results of the month-long mass immunization activity but noted that they already posted an immunization rate of 84 percent as of September 26 or four days before the original deadline.

CHO had targeted to cover a total of 68,772 infants and children in the area who are aged nine months to four years and 11 months-old for the mass immunization activity, which is supported by the Department of Health (DOH) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Sandig said they expected the immunization rate in the area to reach around 90 to 95 percent following their mopping-up activities on Tuesday.

“But we’re not yet contented with that rate since it is still below our target. So we decided to extend the immunization activities to cover all those that we have missed,” he said.

The official said the move is also in response to the noted rise in suspected measles in parts of the city that already killed a two year-old girl and downed around 400 others since January.

CHO, which earlier declared a measles outbreak in the city, identified the fatality as Joana Arocalim of Purok Shariff Mocsin in Barangay Baluan.

Most of the suspected measles cases, which mainly affected infants and children aged six months to 12 years old, were reported from communities in portions of Barangays San Isidro, Lagao, Labangal, Apopong, Calumpang and Fatima.

Sandig said they have submitted to the DOH in Manila some blood samples taken from the patients who exhibited the disease’s symptoms for confirmatory testing.

He noted that a single confirmed or positive case of measles is already considered by the DOH and the WHO as an outbreak.

In 2013, the city health office recorded just five cases of measles, two of which later turned out positive for rubella or German measles.

“We’re calling all parents of eligible infants and children to immediately submit them for immunization because risk of infection, especially with measles, is quite high for those who are not immunized,” Sandig said.

The DOH Region 12′s regional epidemiology and surveillance unit reported that a total of 121 suspected measles cases were recorded in the entire region last year.

In the first six months of the year, DOH-12 already recorded a total of 1,575 measles cases and nine deaths in the entire region.

Region 12, which is also known as the Soccsksargen Region, comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato. (MindaNews)