Mass polio immunization extended for 4 days in Region 12

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 9 December) — The Department of Health (DOH) will extend for four more days the mass immunization against polio in the entire Region 12 or Soccsksargen in a bid to meet its target coverage.

Jenny Panizales, DOH-12 spokesperson, said Monday they will continue with the conduct of the “Sabayang Patak Kontra Polio” (Synchronized Polio Vaccination) in the region from December 10 to 13 based on a directive from DOH Assistant Secretary Abdullah Dumama, the agency’s Mindanao cluster head.

She said Dr. Aristedes Tan, DOH-12 director, issued Advisory No. 3 on Sunday night, advising health and vaccination teams to sustain the mass immunization campaign until the end of the week.

Panizales said their teams did not stop the vaccination activities even as the first round of the Mindanao-wide campaign, which started last Nov. 25, already ended on Saturday, December 7.

“Our vaccination teams actually continued to render services to cover the remaining unvaccinated children,” she told reporters.

Citing their validated data, she said the overall immunization coverage as of Sunday across the region reached about 89 percent or around 512,000 of the targeted 575,525 children aged five-years old and below.

Sarangani province posted the highest coverage with 97 percent, followed by South Cotabato with 92 percent, General Santos City with 91 percent, Sultan Kudarat with 87 percent, Cotabato City with 86 percent and North Cotabato with 84 percent.

DOH is aiming to achieve at least 95 percent coverage to ensure herd immunity in local communities against the poliovirus, which causes the dreaded poliomyelitis.

With the extension of the campaign, Panizales said they will expand their house-to-house visits and set up more fixed vaccination points to ensure that they reach out to more unvaccinated children.

“We will go all out with our strategies and more teams will be going to public convergence areas like markets, shopping malls and even checkpoints,” she said.

In Sarangani, she said they earlier coordinated with the Army’s 1002nd Brigade to allow the vaccination teams to check if there were unvaccinated children in private and public utility vehicles that were passing by the checkpoints.

She said they immediately immunize eligible children who were not yet covered by the campaign.

For the second round of the campaign on January 6 to 20 next year, Panizales urged parents to submit anew their children for the immunization.

She added that it will cover children who were not yet immunized and those that were covered during the first round of the campaign. (MindaNews)