The government is set to intensify its school-based immunization program in Palawan this year as a measure to address measles and dengue problems and other related diseases.
A memorandum of agreement to kick-start the program was signed on Wednesday by the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Education (DepEd)-Puerto Princesa City Division and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).
DOH regional director Mario Baquilod said they expect an increase in target students for vaccinations.
Records show that in the MIMAROPA region, a total of 1,923 measles cases including 26 deaths were recorded by the Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (RESU) from January 1 to August 4, 2019.
The figure is 5,241.6 percent higher compared to the 36 cases recorded in the region during the same period in 2018.
“We assure more school children and adolescents enrolled will be able to receive vaccinations that will protect them from different contagious diseases such as measles, rubella, tetanus and diphtheria given the present state of measles cases in the region. We hope that through these programs we will be able to provide our children with immunity,” Baquilod said.
Topping the list with the most number of cases are Oriental Mindoro with 1,324 cases with 21 deaths, Occidental Mindoro with 275 cases, Palawan with 182 cases with three deaths, 85 cases in Romblon with two deaths, and 57 cases in Marinduque.
He said the DOH aims to provide measles and rubella vaccines to all public school students from Kindergarten to Grade 7, as well as booster doses of tetanus-diphtheria to Grade 1 and Grade 7 learners, which will be given for free provided that there is parental consent.
The MOA includes services on oral health, weekly iron folic acid, deworming, and hand washing for school children.
DOH is targeting at least 95 percent of 14,896 total number of students in Puerto Princesa City public schools to be vaccinated until September 30.
City Health Office (CHO) chief Ricardo Panganiban said they have already conducted several immunization activities prior to the launching to meet the target date of accomplishment.
To date, he said they have provided immunization to 4,251 students out of 14,896 in 39 out of 75 public schools.
Anti-tetanus vaccines were also provided to 1,395 students.
“Kaya naman kaya nga tayo ay medyo nag-advance noong nakaraan pa kasi marami tayong schools. Basta dito lang naman ang DOH kung may kinakailangang pabakunahan,” he said.
Health assistant secretary Dr. Maria Francia Laxamana also called on all stakeholders, including the provincial, municipal and city governments to formulate and pass ordinances that will require parents to submit their children to the school-based immunization program of the DOH.
She also added that measles and dengue are both priorities of the department.
“Kaya nga we call on all the stakeholders para ma-meet ‘yong 95 percent na target natin, including the local government units na sana magkaroon sila nang move that will require the children to be vaccinated,” Laxamana said.