TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, Jan. 12 (PIA) -- At this time of the pandemic, an outbreak of measles, rubella or poliomyelitis could completely swamp the country's health care system.
Thus the government is implementing its Measles Rubella and Oral Polio Vaccine Supplementary Immunization Activity (MR OPV SIA) in the region in February, said Relief International Visayas Communications Officer Lester Ouano during a Kapihan sa PIA forum here.
"Despite the fact that immunization in the country in the past years have considerably improved, the travel restrictions and community quarantines during the coronavirus pandemic has kept the country from getting high immunization accomplishment that kids may have been less protected from these viral diseases," explained Ouano.
VACCINATION POSTS AND HOME VISITS. Other than scheduled vaccination in vaccination posts, health authorities are coordinating with barangay officials to set up mechanisms on how to get to remote communities or those who refuse to go to vaccine posts due to fear of COVID-19. (PIA Bohol/DOH)
Relief International has been partnering with the Department of Health (DOH) and United Nations Institution for Children's Educational Fund (UNICEF) and World Health Organization (WHO) in the immunization campaign to save and empower communities to fight against outbreaks and diseases.
Health authorities here have been alarmed due to the resurgence of measles, rubella and the return of polio which the DOH has detected in September 2019.
DOH said the return of polio could be due to the increasing number of children who have not been inoculated from the virus, and worsened when the travel restrictions imposed during COVID-19 pandemic kept health workers from conducting immunization activities.
Health sources said 3 of every 10 children in the country have not been given the complete anti-polio vaccine, while negative publicity against the dengue campaign has also affected the country's immunization program.
In February, the MR OPV SIA hopes to reach the children in Central Visayas to give them all the supplemental doses of the vaccines against measles, rubella and polio, which have been proven to control the disease, Ouano stressed.
Measles and rubella are highly contagious viral diseases that can be spread when one inhales the droplets expelled by a measles patient when he coughs, sneezes or talks.
The disease manifests itself through colds, cough, redness in the eyes, rashes and fatigue, fever and mumps.
When unattended, the diseases may complicate and cause blindness, encephalitis, ear infections, pneumonia, abortion or after birth complications which may be fatal.
On the other hand, polio is caused by a virus from a patient to another human body through food or water contamination or when one accidentally eats food contaminated with human waste.
When inside the body, the virus can attack the spinal column, affecting muscles controlling the arm and limb movement, causing them to be paralyzed.
The virus can also paralyze one's breathing muscles, leading to difficulty in breathing.
Among the virus-caused diseases, health authorities said immunization is the only defense, especially among the young.
Target for the MR supplemental immunization are children nine months old to five years old, while the polio vaccine is for kids one month and a half to five years old, said Ouano.
Relief International, which has been tasked to spearhead the campaign, and the SIA are now coordinating with local government officials for an effective, efficient, and all-inclusive immunization activity to cover all children while maintaining appropriate health and safety protocols against COVID-19, Ouano said. (rahc/PIA/Bohol)