April 26, 2021 at 10:40 pm
The mass vaccination program of the Philippine government against measles-rubella and polio has reached the majority of eligible children even amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Department of Health said Monday.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said 90.3 percent, or around 8.5 million out of the 9.4-million target population, had received a measles-rubella vaccine.
Over 87 percent, or about 6 million children under five years old belonging to the 6.9-million target population, likewise got an oral polio vaccine.
A malaria-free Philippines by 2030 is the Government’s target in the National Malaria Control and Elimination Pogram.
As the country joins in the global celebration of World Malaria Day 2021, the Department of Health and its partners called for renewed support to the program with the need to make up for the lost time during the pandemic and remain on track with the 2030 target.
Malaria is a parasitic infection transmitted by a bite of an infected female Anopheles mosquito.
The first phase of the vaccination campaign was conducted in October to November 2020 in most Luzon regions and the whole of Mindanao.
The second phase, conducted in February 2021, covered Metro Manila, Central Luzon, Calabarzon and the Visayas.
The DOH also acknowledged that the number of children who completed the routine childhood immunization in 2020 was “more than 30 percent below the national target” due to the pandemic.
“Many people were reluctant to leave their homes and have their children vaccinated because of fear of being exposed to people with COVID-19,” Vergeire said during an online forum.
“Many of our healthcare workers on the ground were also unavailable because of redeployment to COVID-19 response duties,” Vergeire also said.
Rabindra Abeyasinghe, the World Health Organization’s country representative to the Philippines, also noted that around 600,000 children missed out on essential vaccinations last year.
UNICEF urged the Philippine government to improve the vaccine supply chain, reach more disadvantaged children in rural areas and poor communities, and increase the budget and staff of local government units.