South Cotabato to immunize 6,700 kids vs measles, other diseases

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/18 February) — Health personnel in South Cotabato province are targeting to cover around 6,700 children for its ongoing catch-up immunization activities against measles and two other viral diseases.

Dr. Rogelio Aturdido Jr., head of the Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO), said Monday they have deployed health teams in various barangays to immunize vulnerable children and prevent possible outbreaks.

He said they have lowered the eligibility for measles immunization to six months-old from the previous nine to 59 months-old based on a directive from the Department of Health due to the noted outbreaks in parts of the country.

Aside from measles, he said the teams, which were assisted by barangay health workers, were providing vaccines for mumps and rubella.

“We prioritized barangays and communities with increasing cases of suspected measles and some remote areas that are vulnerable to outbreaks,” Aturdido said in a media briefing.

The official specifically cited the municipality of Polomolok, which posted majority of the 53 recorded suspected measles infections in the province’s 10 towns and lone city as of Feb. 14.

A report from the IPHO’s epidemiology and surveillance unit showed that Polomolok already had 34 reported measles cases and with one fatality.

Clustering of cases were monitored in the last two weeks in barangays Cannery Site, Magsaysay and Poblacion, which are all populated areas.

Five measles cases were reported in Koronadal City, four in Norala, three in Banga, two each in Surallah, Tampakan and Tupi, and one in Lake Sebu.

The report said 49 percent or 26 of the cases involved children aged 10 years-old and below, followed by adults aged 21 to 30 years-old with 14, 31 to 50 years-old with eight and 11 to 20 years-old with five.

Of the total 53 cases, at least 41 or about 77 percent had no history of immunization for measles while 12 had received vaccines for the disease.

Dr. Alah Baby Vingno, assistant provincial health officer, said the 6,700 children targeted for the catch-up immunization activities represent those were not covered by the campaign last year.

She said the IPHO identified a total of 26,130 eligible children for the nationwide immunization drive in 2018 but only covered 19,398 or about 74 percent.

“Our goal is to immunize all these children, especially those situated in the remote areas,” she said.

Vingno added that their top priority is the eligible children but noted that they could also provide the vaccines to adults after the end of the catch-up immunization drive on March 31. (MindaNews)