Quinta, COVID outbreak delay mass immunization for children in 3 regions this week

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 28 2020 08:56 PM

MANILA—Three regions performed poorly as the Department of Health launched its mass immunization program for measles, rubella and polio.

The DOH attributed this to the delayed start of the program in several municipalities due to Typhoon Quinta and local COVID-19 outbreaks.

“Region 4B, Region 5 and Region 2 were affected by the typhoon. So some provinces in their area postponed or delayed the conduct or the kick off of the MROPV (measles-rubella and oral polio vaccine) campaign last Monday,” said Dr. Wilda Silva, DOH National Immunization Program Manager, during a virtual briefing. 

“For BARMM (Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) you can see here among the regions in Mindanao they are not performing very well. The reason here is one of the provinces, Lanao del Sur including the city of Marawi, postponed the campaign next week because of increasing number of COVID cases,” she explained.

Silva said some health workers also tested positive for COVID-19 in the province so they do not have enough personnel to implement the immunization program.

Out of the 5 regions participating in Luzon, Region 1 performed the best.

On the other hand, most of the participating regions in Mindanao, except for BARMM, were able to hit the 16% target for the first 2 days.

The Philippine government intensified its immunization efforts for children following a measles outbreak last year and detection of polio cases early this year.

For the Cordillera Administrative Region, Benguet had the lowest number of children vaccinated for the first two days because of heavy rains.

Notable was the coverage of Dapitan City in Zamboanga del Norte, which was able to vaccinate 34.8% of its target population in 2 days.

Silva said while the government is persistent in ensuring that the immunization program will push through, “we have to strike that balance of our effort to control vaccine preventable disease and at the same time keeping the level of transmission of COVID very low.”

Meanwhile, for the last week, the DOH only detected 6 new measles cases.

Silva attributed the lower number of cases to the government’s immunization efforts, which started in 2017, as well as the limited movement of people due to the community quarantine. 

She said that because measles is a respiratory disease, it helped that people are frequently washing hands and wearing face masks.