World Health Organization (WHO) and UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) issued a report on Tuesday, October 8, about the status of a polio outbreak in the country. It also outlined the Department of Health’s (DOH) action plan in administering the polio vaccine to children.
The report said DOH confirmed two polio cases of vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (VDPV2) in the country. Environmental samples taken from Manila and Davao tested positive for both VDPV2 (2), as well as for VDPV1 (5).
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.
Oral polio vaccination plan of DOH
The report also said DOH planned three vaccination rounds targeting 6,650,308 under-five children with monovalent Oral Polio Vaccine against poliovirus type 2 (mOPV2) in affected areas.
It also confirmed that “sufficient quantities of mOPV2 for the 1st round arrived in Mindanao on 8 October 2019, sent from the global vaccine stockpile, by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI).”
“GPEI also mobilised 14 international consultants, who will work closely together with DOH and health partners in Marawi, Iligan, Davao, and Manila to support surveillance, monitoring, and immunization efforts,” the report reads.
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.
DOH planned to give two vaccination rounds to 2,553,262 under-five children with bivalent Oral Polio Vaccine (bOPV) in the National Capital Region (NCR).
Enhanced routine immunization with three (3) doses of bOPV as well as inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) nationwide is ongoing.