The Department of Health (DOH) announced the commencement of the 2nd round of Sabayang Patak Kontra Polio (SPKP) in Region III and in three provinces of Region IVA, namely Laguna, Rizal and Cavite, from 14-27 September. Two drops of monovalent Oral Polio Vaccine Type 2 (mOPV2) will be given to children under five years of age for free, regardless of their immunization status.

Last July and August 2020, DOH in partnership with the Local Government Units (LGUs) conducted the first round of SPKP in the same regions. The results, however, were below the desired target of 95% vaccination coverage of children under five years of age — 80.6% (Phase 1) and 81.39% (Phase 2) in Region III, and 81.71% (Phase 1) and 70.88% (Phase 2) in the three provinces of Region IVA.

“With the COVID-19 pandemic, the challenges in conducting an effective polio outbreak response immunization are numerous and unprecedented. Nevertheless, our health workers and vaccinators have worked tirelessly to reach every child and provide them with oral polio drops. The oral polio drops will provide additional protection to our children against the poliovirus and prevent the spread of the polio outbreak,” Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III remarked.

The SPKP is a series of polio vaccination rounds provided to children under 5 years of age in selected high-risk areas of the country, where each vaccination round is synchronously conducted within a two-week period. Since July of 2019, the Department has successfully conducted several rounds of SPKP in the National Capital Region and in all regions of Mindanao. This year, the Department included additional two regions, namely Regions III and IVA, after polio cases were reported in Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija, and Calamba City, Laguna.

“I challenge our Central Luzon and CALABARZON Centers for Health Development and LGUs to replicate the successes and best practices of our previous SPKP campaigns. The outcome of this SPKP round will determine our next steps in addressing the polio outbreak,” Secretary Duque said.

Poliomyelitis is a disease with devastating and lifelong consequences such as paralysis or even death. There is no cure for the disease and vaccination is the best way to prevent polio.

“Our fight against polio is not over. Since the mOPV2 is not commercially available and only given in government health facilities, I continue to urge parents and caregivers to have their children vaccinated against this disease during the said vaccination dates. Let us work together and ensure that no child is left behind unvaccinated,” the Health Secretary concluded.