Published On: Fri, Nov 22nd, 2013

Philippines: Mass vaccination campaign launched in Tacloban, Cebu

In an effort to prevent infectious disease outbreaks among the vulnerable in the hardest hit areas of the Philippines in the wake of Super-Typhoon Haitan (Yolanda), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Philippines Department of Health (DOH) have launched a vaccination campaign to prevent outbreaks of measles and polio among survivors, according to a DOH news release Nov.22.

Leyte, Philippines Image/© Eugene Alvin Villar, 2003. (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Seav)

Leyte, Philippines
Image/© Eugene Alvin Villar, 2003. (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Seav)

“Large numbers of non- or under-vaccinated children are at risk of contracting and spreading infectious diseases such as measles—particularly in congested areas where the homeless are now living,” says Dr Julie Hall, WHO Representative in the Philippines. “Measles can be deadly, especially in young children.”

The campaign targets children in areas hardest hit by the disaster—starting with the evacuation centres in the city of Tacloban and at receiving centers in Cebu, where evacuated families are finding temporary shelter. Children under five years old are being vaccinated against polio and measles and given Vitamin A drops to boost their immune systems.

“Our system is shaken but not broken,” said Philippines Secretary of Health Enrique Ona. “With the support of partners, vaccinations have been re-launched at a vital time.”

WHO worked with the Department of Health to finalize plans and procure all necessary vaccines and supplies to carry out the campaign and set up immunization stations.Teams of volunteer nurses are deploying to Tacloban this weekend.

WHO is working with partners to arrange for the delivery of vaccines using gas-powered and generator-powered fridges, freezers, vaccine-cases, cold boxes and ice packs for affected areas that have lost power. This “cold chain” is necessary to keep the vaccines from being spoiled. USAID has sent six solar-driven refrigerators to Tacloban.

Mass immunization and vitamin A supplementation are immediate health priorities following natural disasters in areas with inadequate coverage levels. Contagious diseases like measles spread quickly when people are living in unsanitary and overcrowded conditions.

As young children are most at risk, the initial phase of the campaign targets children six months to five years old in regions most severely affected by the disaster. The campaign will be extended to children up to 15 years old if resources allow.

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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