Sarangani intensifies measles, rubella vaccination drive

GENERAL SANTOS CITY--The provincial health office of Sarangani Province said it has vaccinated some 6,244 children during the first week of the ongoing mass supplemental immunization activity for measles and rubella.

Razel Bustria, program manager for maternal, neonatal, child health and nutrition of the Provincial Health Office, said Monday such figure represents about 10 percent of their target children population of 66,428 for the month-long campaign.

“This is a good start for us and we’re currently intensifying our efforts so we can achieve our targets,” she said.

Citing their monitoring, Bustria said the vaccination teams were widely received by residents, especially those in remote villages.

Unlike other areas, she said they did not experience resistance from parents due to fears brought about by the controversial anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia.

She said such situation was due to the effective health education campaign about the issue by provincial, municipal and barangay health workers.

“They were aware that the Dengvaxia vaccines never reached our health centers and the vaccination activities were conducted in other areas,” she said.

The Department of Health (DOH) launched formally last May 9 the Mindanao-wide immunization campaign for measles and rubella, covering children six aged months to below five years-old.

The activity, which will run until June 8, was in response to the recorded measles outbreaks in parts of Mindanao these past months.

DOH recorded a total of 767 suspected measles cases in Region 12 or Soccsksargen since January, with 110 already confirmed. It recorded a total of nine deaths, all involving unimmunized children.

Dr. Arvin Alejandro, Provincial Health Office chief, reiterated that measles is a vaccine-preventable disease but could lead to death if not properly treated due to potential complications.

He called on parents of unimmunized children to take advantage of the ongoing mass immunization activity by going to the nearest health centers.

Sarangani was a consistent top performer in the mass immunization activities supported by the DOH from 2014 to 2016.

It ranked first in Region 12 and third in the country in terms of the number of vaccinated children. (PNA)