DOH 7 falls short of 95 percent target to immunize children against measles, polio

DUE to low coverage two days before the end of the month-long Measles, Rubella-Oral Poliomyelitis Vaccine Supplementary Immunization Activity (MR-OPV SIA), the Department of Health (DOH) 7 will extend its campaign for one more week, or until March 7, 2021.

Dr. Joan Antonette Albito, child program coordinator of the DOH 7, said their goal for the MR-OPV SIA is to vaccinate 95 percent of the target population of age group zero to 59 months old.

However, she said they fell short of their target, having only achieved 73 percent, as of Friday, Feb. 26.

She attributed the low coverage to several factors, including the hesitancy among parents related to their fear of the vaccines’ side effects and misinformation.

She said some parents don’t want to bring their children to vaccination posts because they’re afraid their children will get infected with the coronavirus disease 2019.

Albito also cited their lack of manpower as some health care workers acquired Covid-19, while others were exposed to the virus and had to be quarantined. Some were also pulled out from the vaccination teams to augment Covid response activities particularly in Cebu City.

She said vaccination teams also encountered difficulty in penetrating areas on lockdown.

At the start of the campaign, she said the SIA was not a priority at the local government unit (LGU) level as health care workers had other duties in temporary treatment and monitoring facilities, birthing facilities and in the planning for the Covid-19 vaccination.

Lack of awareness in the community and weather disturbances and the problem of terrain also contributed to the low turnout, she added.

As of Feb. 26, the top performing LGU for the measles vaccination is Lapu-Lapu City with a coverage of 85.54 percent. At the bottom is Cebu City with 63.37 percent, even though it doesn’t have the highest target of eligible children.

Lapu-Lapu City also leads the SIA against poliomyelitis at 85.91 percent, while Cebu City also has the lowest coverage at 63.57 percent. (WBS)