The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) asked all the local government units (LGUs) to participate in the implementation of polio immunization campaign and to urge parents to have their children vaccinated in order to prevent the spread of the disease in the country.
“Every community leader, religious leader and celebrity must mobilize their communities to participate in immunization activities,” said UNICEF country representative Oyun Dendevnorov.
The Department of Health (DOH) has raised a polio outbreak in the Philippines on September 19, Thursday, 19 years after it was declared polio-free. Thus, according to Dendevnorov, this calls for immediate action to ensure that the cases would not increase anymore.
“It reminds us of the importance of increasing immunization coverage to 95 percent of children to stop polio virus transmission in the Philippines. Vaccination is the best and only protection against polio,” she said.
Dendevnorov also mentioned that multiple doses of the vaccine have to be taken to get full immunity against polio.
Furthermore, children all over the country are at risk of being infected with the disease if there is still a single child infected.
Oral polio vaccine (OPV) has a weakened form of poliovirus and once the child took this, the attenuated virus will replicate in the intestine within a short period. As a result, the body will develop immunity by building anti-bodies.
The virus is also produced in one’s stool. Therefore, the weakened virus can circulate within the community before it dies down.
“If the population is not fully immunized, the weakened virus can continue to circulate. The longer it is allowed to survive, the more changes it undergoes,” the UNICEF representative said.
Currently, UNICEF is working accordingly with the DOH and the World Health Organization (WHO) to protect children, particularly from the areas where there have been reported cases.
Robredo urges parents
Meanwhile, Vice-President Leni Robredo encouraged all parents yesterday to let their children be immunized.
“I hope, in the soonest possible time, they will have their children vaccinated. There are free vaccinations available (at) health centers,” Robredo said in her segment at DZXL radio station.
“They should not believe reports that vaccination will only endanger their children’s lives because this is not true. The health centers will not give these vaccines if these are harmful for kids,” she pointed out.
Adults at ‘very low’ risk of polio
On a different note, the Department of Health said that adults are at low risk of contracting the disease.
“Ang talagang high-risk po sa polio is children 5 years below kaya talagang sila iyong ipina-prioritize sa pagbabakuna,” DOH Spokesperson and Undersecretary Eric Domingo said in an interview with DZMM.
Children 5 years old below have weak immune systems, that’s why they have high chances of getting the virus.
“‘Pag po adults, mababang-mababa po ang risk,” Domingo added.
On the other hand, adults with weak immune system may consult health specialists.
“Unless po siguro immuno-compromised, maaari silang magtanong sa kanilang center at tanungin kung kailangan silang bigyan ng bakuna rin [they can consult health experts if they still need vaccines,” he said.
According to him, children can be vaccinated at health centers whereas adults can avoid contracting the poliovirus through personal hygiene and restroom sanitation.