1.8 Million Filipino Children Covered by UNICEF’s Polio Vaccination Campaign

UNICEF supporting the synchronized polio vaccination campaign in Metro Manila, Davao City, and Marawi City in the Philippines
filipino little girl
Asia (Vax Before Travel)

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is supporting the Philippine Department of Health (DOH) in the synchronized polio vaccination campaign launched in Metro Manila, Davao City, and Marawi City. 

This immunization campaign started on October 14, 2019, and will continue until October 27th, said the World Health Organization (WHO).

The UNICEF & WHO campaign aims to cover around 1.8 million children under 5 years old in the 3 areas, as well as in Davao del Sur and Lanao del Sur.

Previously, the Philippines DOH declared a polio outbreak after 2 confirmed cases of vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (VDPV2) during September 2019. 

This polio outbreak is expected to spread rapidly due to the low level of population immunity against poliovirus type 2.

“The polio outbreak is a wakeup call for the Philippines. We must act now to protect children against polio and other vaccine-preventable diseases through immunization,” said Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, acting WHO Representative in the Philippines, in a press release.

Polio is a highly infectious and potentially fatal disease caused by a virus. It invades the nervous system and can cause paralysis or even death. 

There is no cure for polio. However, it can be prevented through safe and effective vaccines.

Unfortunately, the Philippines has seen a decline in immunization coverage in the past few years, including for protection against polio.

In 2018, only 66 percent of children completed their oral polio vaccine (drops) doses, and only 45 percent received their inactivated polio vaccine (injection) dose. 

At least 95% of children under 5 years of age need to be vaccinated, irrespective of their current vaccination status, to stop the spread of polio in the country.

Oyun Dendevnorov, UNICEF Philippines Representative, added “There is no alternative to protect children from the risk of polio than vaccinating them. The polio vaccine is safe and effective. UNICEF is working with WHO to support DOH meet the country’s immunization targets.”

WHO and UNICEF are working with the Philippines Government to support vaccine supply and cold chain management, on-the-ground coordination, operations support, and monitoring. Polio vaccination is provided for free at health centers and involves 3 doses of polio drops and 1 injection.

Furthermore, the WHO recommends that all travelers and residents in polio-affected areas be fully vaccinated against polio.

Even if you were vaccinated as a child or have been sick with polio before, you may need a polio vaccine booster dose to make sure you are protected, says the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In the USA, there are various polio vaccines available, such as Kinrix and Pediarix.

Since 1979, no cases of polio have originated in the United States. This means that there is no year-round transmission of poliovirus in the United States.

Pre-trip, polio vaccine counseling appointments can be scheduled with a travel specialist at Vax-Before-Travel.

About UNICEF - "UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere." 

For more information about UNICEF and its work for children in the Philippines, visit Unicef/Philippines.

Polio news published by Vax-Before-Travel


Article by
Dani Reiter