COTABATO CITY—Health officials of the Bangsamoro Government will add one more working week to immunize the remaining unvaccinated children under five years old in the region against measles-rubella.
The measles-rubella supplemental immunization campaign started on Oct. 26, and was originally set to end on Nov. 25.
OIC Health Minister Amirel Usman said due to adverse effects of floods and the threat of Coronavirus Disease (Covid-19), the target of immunizing 506,448 children were not met.
Since the start of the campaign, the Ministry of Health (MOH) reported that it has already immunized 449,464 children, or 88.7 percent out of its total target.
Deputy Health Minister Zul Qarneyn Abas said the campaign will now stretch until Dec. 4 for Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi to cover the remaining 56,984 children.
“This is the main reason why we need to extend the vaccination campaign period,” Abas said.
Abas added that the campaign started on Nov. 3 and 9 in Lanao del Sur and Marawi City, respectively, because of the rising Covid-19 cases in the province.
“Misconceptions on vaccine’s legitimacy, side effects, religious beliefs and threats of Covid-19 infection were among the most apparent reasons for refusals of vaccination,” Abas noted.
Bedouri Dinil, a nurse deployed in Townsite, Maluso, in Basilan, said cases of vaccination refusals were recorded in her area of assignment because of misconceptions about the vaccine.
“As a health worker, we do our part of educating the people for them to fully understand the importance of this vaccination and its underlying threats if their children will be left unvaccinated (against measles-rubella),” Dinil added.
The province health office of Basilan will still vaccinate 13,557 children, as the province recorded the lowest turnout at 63.7 percent or 23,821 children from its 37,378 target.
Barangay nurse Edward Caballero of Barangay Poblacion, Pagalungan in Maguindanao, said the first week of the campaign in their town was carried out with challenges as the whole town was submerged in floods. He said vaccinators had to use makeshift boats to reach its constituents.
In Maguindanao 151,731 children, or at 96.8 percent have already been vaccinated.
Usman said provincial and regional health workers conducted rapid coverage monitoring to trace unimmunized children and vaccinate them against measles rubella.
The monitoring aimed at identifying possible causes and challenges faced by health workers in the immunization process and to plan and execute actions to correct them.
Meanwhile, Usman said the region has recorded a total of 2,354 Covid-19 cases, with 157 active cases as of yesterday.
A memorandum of understanding was also made between the MOH and the United Voices for Peace Network, Inc. to help the ministry in information dissemination on Covid-19. (Bureau of Public Information)