MANILA - The Philippine Red Cross will launch next month its polio vaccine drive in Central Luzon and parts of Calabarzon, an official said Sunday.
Included in the vaccine campaign are the provinces of Cavite, Laguna and Rizal where cases of polio were recorded following its resurgence in the country, said Mark Abrigo, manager of the PRC Health Service Unit.
Some 92,000 children have been immunized as of Saturday since the non-government organization first launched its campaign in October last year in coordination with the health department, he added.
"Bumaba po ang antas ng pagbabakuna sa Pilipinas. Kaya, yung mga bata, 'pag nakuha nila ang polio, sila ay may tsansa na maparalisa ang kanilang mga paa at hindi na sila makakalakad. Ito po ay panghabangbuhay," Abrigo told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.
(Our rate of immunization decreased. So, if children contract polio, they have a high chance of being paralyzed for life.)
"Sa malalang antas, eh pwede po nila ito ikamatay. Kaya napakahalaga po na ang mga bata ay mapabakunahan ng polio po."
(In worst cases, it can lead to death. So it's very important for children to receive the vaccine.)
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) earlier said childhood immunization coverage in the country has been "declining sharply in recent years from 87 percent in 2014 to 68 percent in 2019", exposing children to diseases that can be prevented by vaccinations, such as measles and polio.
It raised concerns that 2 million Filipino children may miss out on vaccinations during the COVID-19 pandemic as quarantine measures are implemented.
The agency has also reminded its community volunteers to stay alert and spread prevention measures against dengue now that the rainy season is here, Abrigo said.