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BARMM to go on ‘house-to-house’ polio vaccination drive

COTABATO CITY, Maguindano, Philippines — Amid quarantine measures in place to stop the spread of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Bangsamoro health officials vowed there will be no let down in the region’s vaccination program against polio.

Dr. Saffrullah Dipatuan, chief health minister in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, made the assurance as the region observed World Immunization Week against polio this week, a disease causing paralysis or death that has reemerged in the country after 19 years.

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“We will do the best that we can, just like what we did during the ‘all-out war against poliovirus,’ to ensure that our children are protected,” Dipatuan said.

He said more than 50,000 children were vaccinated against polio in Lanao del Sur last year after a 3-year-old girl contracted the disease in the province’s southern part.

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Follow up“We want to replicate our success in the all-out war against polio. Maybe we can replicate it against all vaccine-preventable diseases,” he said as he urged parents to follow up on the immunization shots of their children.

He said mothers and babies would still be allowed to go to their regional health units even if the region is on general community quarantine as long as they would wear face masks and observe physical distancing.

More perilous than COVID-19In areas with no known COVID-19 cases, health workers may go house-to-house to administer the vaccine, according to the interim guidelines issued by the Department of Health on March 25.

“We must remember that the diseases being prevented by our routine immunization might be more or as perilous as COVID-19,” Dipatuan said. “Because of this, we strongly encourage you to continue the immunization of your children to keep them healthy and protected as they grow older,” he said, addressing the mothers.

The United Nations Children’s Fund earlier expressed concern that routine immunization for over two million children around the world would be affected by the lockdown imposed by authorities to cut the transmission of COVID-19.

Polio reemerged in the Philippines in 2019 with 17 confirmed cases. The 3-year-old girl in Lanao del Sur was the first case after the World Health Organization declared the country polio-free in 2000.

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TAGS: BARMM, coronavirus pandemic, coronavirus Philippines, COVID-19, polio vaccination
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