Editorial: Preventable diseases

Editorial Cartoon by John Gilbert Manantan

Go, get your children vaccinated. This is the Department of Health (DOH) 7’s call to the public as its Measles Rubella and Oral Polio Vaccine Supplemental Immunization Activity (MR-OPV SIA) program is on its second phase that showed coverage way below the agency’s target.

As of Feb. 18, 2021, Cebu City logged the lowest coverage for measles rubella SIA at 39.28 percent, or 34,533 were vaccinated out of the 87,921 targeted children. The same thing can be said of the polio jab rollout, which is only at 39.29 percent, which means only 40,791 children were inoculated, out of the 103,819 target.

Cebu Province, meanwhile, is also still halfway, at 58.23 percent, or only 163,099 of the 280,080 target.

Central Visayas’s performance is the poorest all over the country, said Regional Director Jaime Bernadas.

The health department has been pushing hard the program, saying that the public must not lose sight in the fight against these preventable diseases despite the Covid-19 pandemic. The agency has been reminding its partners in the provinces, cities and municipalities to step up their efforts to immunize children.

“We must do it in double time. We must bring children zero to 59 months (old) to our health centers so they can get shots of vaccines to avoid the vaccine-preventable diseases,” said Bernadas.

If the programs for measles, dengue and polio are left with poor coverage, communities will be battling “triple threat of outbreaks” on top of Covid-19, which is already wreaking havoc on our economy.

The DOH reported an ongoing polio outbreak since 2019, “with cases detected from the Acute Flaccid Paralysis surveillance and poliovirus isolates that were seen in environmental samples. At the same time, there is a threat of a measles outbreak and continuing spread of rubella virus in the country.”

The vaccines have been declared safe, said the DOH, and the public need not be afraid to have their children get injected.

Misinformation had severely affected vaccination programs all over the world, defeating years of efforts to eliminate these preventable diseases. With the pandemic, it is high time that the public sift through the newsfeeds and learn to trust in the better science of vaccines, one of humanity’s biggest gifts to itself.


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