Polio, measles vaccines ‘answer to outbreak’

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Saturday, August 23, 2014


TO COUNTER another possible outbreak of measles and polio, the Department of Health (DOH) in Northern Mindanao will distribute vaccines to children who are the prime target of its month-long mass immunization in September.

The nationwide vaccination campaign is hoped to decelerate spread of the virus causing polio and eliminate measles among adults.

In Northern Mindanao, DOH reported to have 1,631 suspected measles cases at the height of its outbreak in the region around two months ago.

Of all the areas in the region, Misamis Oriental topped the list with 55.2 percent, while Cagayan de Oro came in next with 36.5 percent.

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Five deaths caused by measles have been reported in the region for this year.

Protection from complication

The health agency said the vaccines may not stop the spread of the virus that cause measles and polio, but at least protection from its complications is guaranteed.

“Everybody is vulnerable, especially the children. There will be no outbreak if all children get vaccinated at a very early age,” DOH-Northern Mindanao's Family Health Cluster head Elen Santua said.

Most of the children affected by measles are aged one to four years old, implying that immunity against the virus is still low at the said age bracket.

The vaccine will cater to nine to 11-month-old infants, which will make them 85 percent immune against measles.

In their later ages, 12 to 59 months, the DOH will ask them to come back for the complete immunization making them 95 percent protected against the virus.

Santua said that aside from the vaccination, parents of children should also look for additional immunizers like eating healthful food and having a healthy lifestyle.

“You cannot just depend on the vaccine alone. Children should be given proper nutrients from fruits, vegetables, meat, juices and more. Parents should know that there are also other viruses and bacteria waiting around if their children are not fully shielded,” she added.

There have been instances that frequent cases of measles emerge in the summer but Santua said with climate change, the virus now attacks anytime.

During the immunization next month, health workers will be stationed in fixed posts, according to DOH.

Once children get vaccinated, a drip of an indelible ink will be put in their fingers to indicate that they have already been inoculated. This is also to avoid repetition.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on August 23, 2014.

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