DOH-Bicol urges parents to have kids vaccinated vs. polio

LEGAZPI CITY — The Department of Health (DOH) 5 (Bicol) is urging parents to have their children vaccinated against polio in health centers, as part of its intensified efforts to prevent the transmission of the viral disease in the region.

In an interview on Wednesday, Dr. Monrey Isaiah Mancilla, immunization program coordinator of DOH-5, said the Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) is free of charge and available in barangay health centers across the region.

“We are encouraging parents who are not sure if their children (had) already (been) given OPV to go to their nearest health centers and avail of the free vaccines,” he said.

Mancilla noted that a child should receive OPV 1, 2 and 3 before reaching one year old.

“For the past three years (2016 to 2018), the three-dose series of OPV immunizations in Region 5 was 44 percent, 72 percent, and 74 percent respectively, way below the target 95 percent required of a population to develop herd immunity,” he said.

Dr. Ernie V. Vera, DOH-5 director, said the agency has been strengthening its immunization program and intensifying all measures to prevent polio transmission.

“DOH-Bicol will observe measures to intensify the surveillance system, particularly for children below five years old who developed sudden onset of muscle weakness or paralysis of the upper and lower extremities,” he added.

DOH-5 shall also involve local officials for policy legislation, specifically on the strict implementation of the “Zero Open Defecation” program, and urge all health service providers to deliver quality health services through routine and catch-up immunization.

Vera also called on all media partners to help with the information dissemination, and stakeholders for support.

“We want to call on our media partners to help us on appropriate and reliable information dissemination on the importance of maintaining a clean environment and the relevance of frequent hand washing and good personal hygiene. We also ask for support from our partner stakeholders for various NIP (National Immunization Program) and polio initiatives and activities,” he said.

The polio virus is transmitted when there is poor environmental sanitation and hygiene.

The DOH believes that the best preventive measure against the disease is the completion of three doses of the OPV and one dose of the Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV) for infants before turning one year old. Connie Calipay /PNA-