‘Extreme heat’ affects measles vax campaign as DOH-7 monitors 70 suspected cases
CEBU CITY, Philippines – Health officials in Central Visayas vowed to work double time to achieve their target of inoculating 95 percent of the children here against measles.
The country kicked off the Chikiting Ligtas 2023, the nationwide campaign aimed at vaccinating children against measles last May 1. However, as of May 14, the immunization coverage rate in Central Visayas was still at 41.44 percent, the Department of Health here (DOH-7) said.
DOH-7 targets to inoculate at least 95 percent of the close to 700,000 children in the region by the end of May, said Dr. Joan Antonette Albito, the agency’s National Immunization Program coordinator.
In a press conference on Monday, May 15, Albito revealed several factors behind the low turnout. These included extreme heat due to the prevailing dry season.
“Not only atong ginikanan (mo hesitate og gawas tungod sa extreme heat) but also atoang healthcare workers. Maglisud sad sila og adto sa hard reach areas (due to the weather). And atong vaccination hours na shorten,” Albito said.
Since the start of summer in March, Central Visayas has experienced hot and humid weather with isolated rain showers and localized thunderstorms, based on previous reports from the state weather bureau. Heat index in the region also ranged between 32 to 40 degrees Celsius, which falls under the ‘Extreme Heat’ category.
Heat index measures the level of discomfort an average person experiences due to the combined effects of the temperature and air humidity.
DOH-7 is aiming to inoculate an average of 37,000 children against measles daily to reach its 95 percent target.
Measles is a highly contagious viral infection that causes high fever, rash, runny nose, and cough. Measles can be fatal, especially for infants and young children.
DOH-7 said they are currently monitoring at least 70 suspected cases, of which one was already confirmed as measles.
Should the regional health agency fail to achieve its vaccination campaign’s targets by May 31, they might extend its timeline.
Dr. Jaime Bernadas, director of DOH-7, urged parents as well as local governments to get their kids vaccinated before the May 31 deadline.
According to Bernadas, extending the vaccination campaign may hinder other health programs that are in the pipeline as well as result in health workers getting exhausted.
“Di ta moundang until makaabot sa target. Di nato pasagdan ang mga kabataan mahimong vulnerable sa tigdas,” said Bernadas.
“The sooner (ma achieve atong vaccination), the better para ma focus atong uban programa. Awhag nato sa tanan nga your cooperation is a big must arun makab-ot atong damgo nga ang mga ata maprotektahan sa vaccine-preventable disease,” he added.
While more needs to be done in order to achieve their goal, DOH-7 officials said their current figures showed an improvement compared to the previous years.
“We’re doing good considering before we only have around 20 percent during the first two weeks,” said Albito.
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