MANILA - Parents are urged to have their children vaccinated against preventable diseases, the World Health Organization and several other groups said on Sunday, World Polio Day.
The Philippines in June announced the halt of the polio outbreak after it resurfaced in 2019.
Children under the age of 5 are most vulnerable to polio, which is a "highly infectious, crippling, and sometimes fatal disease that can be avoided with a vaccine," according to the WHO, Department of Health, United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), and Rotary International.
“Once a commonplace illness, polio has been eliminated from most countries, including now again in the Philippines. This shows the power of vaccines to save lives and protect people from diseases such as polio,” WHO representative to the Philippines Dr Rabindra Abeyasinghe said.
"Ang mga bakuna po for routine immunization ay ligtas at libre, makipag-ugnayan lamang po sa local health centers sa inyong lugar,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque said.
(The vaccine for routine immunization is safe and free. Just get in touch with your local health centers.)
The DOH earlier this month launched the catch-up immunization campaign, which aims to inoculate children under the age of 2 with missed vaccine doses.
Nearly half a million Filipino children in 2020 missed their oral polio drops for routine immunization due to the pandemic.
Polio remains endemic in only Afghanistan and Pakistan, the groups said in a joint statement. It will be only the second disease next to smallpox to be eradicated when these nations become free of polio, they added.
Every disease outbreak strains the country's resources, especially health workers, as the pandemic persists, Abeyasinghe said.
"The lives and health of our children are at stake. Our plea to parents: please ensure that your children have received all the routine childhood vaccines including polio doses as we prepare for them to go back to schools and early learning centers," he said.
“Vaccines work – the fact that we are close to ending polio is proof of this. However, we are not yet there and we must fulfill our promise to children to make the world polio-free,” added Mary Anne Alcordo Solomon, coordinator of Rotary International Zone 10A (Philippines) End Polio Now.
FROM THE ARCHIVES