In the wake of the order of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to take appropriate actions to avert the return of polio, Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko” Domogoso on Monday disclosed that nearly half of children in the city under five-years-old were vaccinated with anti-polio virus.
The vaccination, Domagoso said, was conducted on 92,265 out of 191,138 children, or 48.27 percent, during the first round of polio immunization, covering the period of August 19 to 31.
The number of children administered with the vaccines represents 47% of the target.
Domagoso said the Manila Health Department under Dr. Arnold Pangan has intensified sanitation campaigns for at-risk barangays, specifically along esteros.
He also said clinical surveillance for Acute Flaccid Paralysis suspects were also boosted.
In schools, the Manila mayor said surveillance is being done for suspects of poliomyelitis for possible confirmation.
Earlier, Domagoso said meetings were initiated by the Manila Health Department with the Department of Health, UNICEF, World Health Organization, and the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine regarding findings of two positive results for the isolation of a polio virus from a sewerage pump station in Tondo, where the risks of transmission are high.
Duque has called on the public to increase polio immunization coverage and strengthen disease surveillance to ensure the Philippines remains polio-free.
While the Philippines has been certified as polio-free since 2000, Duque warned that the country is currently at high risk for poliovirus transmission based on the 2018 risk analysis of the National Certification Committee for Polio.
In 2001, three cases of AFP in Cavite, Laguna, and Misamis Oriental, and one contact became positive for vaccine-derived poliovirus type 1.
As a response, then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued Proclamation No. 135 to heighten the Oral Polio Vaccine vaccination and raise the polio vaccination coverage to 95 percent. Case surveillance and reporting of AFP was also strengthened.
In 2018, the vaccine coverage for the third dose of OPV was 66%, well below the 95% target required to ensure that the whole population is protected against polio.
“We need to urgently act to stop its spread in our communities,” said Duque.
Polio is a fatal and disabling disease caused by the poliovirus. The infection is transmitted through the fecal-oral route where environmental sanitation and personal hygiene are poor.
There is no cure for the disease and complete vaccination is the best way to prevent it.