Measles, polio immunization continues amid pandemic – IATF

The Inter-Agency Task for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) said Friday the measles and immunization in the Philippines would continue amid the COVID-19 .

The IATF approved a resolution on Thursday allowing to continue the vaccination activities during community quarantine.

“Local government units are hereby strongly enjoined to fully support the immunization activity to ensure successful interruption of measles and polio transmissions,” it added.

The Department of Health in March said the routine vaccination of newborns and infants up to 12 months as wells as the catch-up immunizations of defaulters under five years old should push through as long as health protocols would be observed.

The United Nations Children’s Fund earlier said that around two million Filipino children below two years old may have not been vaccinated due to the community lockdowns which limit the movement of people.

Last month, reported 25 polio infections in the Philippines from September 2019 to June 2020. Sixteen of whom experienced permanent disability.

Dr. Wilda Silva, program manager of the DOH immunization program, said polio immunization was hindered in NCR and Calabarzon in the first semester of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Also read: Philippines polio vaccine drive: 200 Red Cross assembled

Measles, polio immunization continues amid pandemic – IATF

The Philippines has been polio-free for 19 years until  confirmed September 14, 2019, that a 3-year-old girl had the disease and “now apparently well but with residual paralysis.”

According to UNICEF and WHO, the poliovirus type 2 would likely spread rapidly due to the “low level of population immunity” against the virus. The organizations also consider the virus as a public health emergency.

WHO and UNICEF pointed out that the poliovirus resurfaced due to persistently low routine immunization coverage.

The drop in polio immunization was traced back to the Dengvaxia vaccine scare in 2017. The government approved the school-based dengue vaccination in 2015. As of today, there are 145 deaths (142 children and three adults) allegedly caused by Dengvaxia.

Meanwhile, on August 25, the Africa Regional Certification Commission certified the WHO African Region as wild polio-free after four years without a case.

To date, only two countries, Pakistan and Afghanistan, continue to see wild poliovirus transmission.