Following the World Health Organization’s declaration of the end of the polio outbreak in the country after the two-year intensified immunization campaigns, the Department of Health (DOH) on the web show “Okay, Doc” reiterated the need for uninterrupted childhood vaccination against polio and to avoid complacency among parents.

In the episode “Proteksyon Kontra Polio,” aired last August 18, DOH director for Disease Prevention and Control Bureau Beverly Ho explained why children should get vaccinated against polio.

“Children are the most vulnerable to polio, and because the symptoms are not distinct, we don’t always see the deeper problem of this virus that can paralyze our spinal cords. When you’re fully vaccinated against polio, there’s a 99% chance of preventing it,” Dr. Ho said.

Dr. Ho also disclosed that DOH is preparing for a strong private-sector-supported catch up routine immunization campaign for children. She said that DOH is already in talks with private medical practitioners, educational institutions, and private companies for this campaign and announcements are expected to roll out this September.

National Immunization Program (NIP) manager Dr. Kim Patrick Tejano discussed the importance of protecting children during the pandemic, noting that local government units are continuously carrying out childhood vaccinations in the health centers. “Just like how there are schedules for our COVID vaccination, there are schedules for routine immunization with some of our LGUs,” he shared. He also emphasized that the vaccines provided at the local government units are available at no cost, protecting against several diseases including polio, measles, pneumonia, meningitis, tuberculosis, diphtheria, and hepatitis.

Meanwhile, vaccine advocacy group Team BakuNanay’s community manager Ara Casas-Tumuran shared that she had her own daughter safely vaccinated during the pandemic. “Let’s not be afraid of vaccines, but be more afraid of the diseases our children can get without vaccines,” she said. Team BakuNanay aims to provide a safe space for parents to ask questions about protecting their children, and share firsthand experiences of vaccination. DOH is also preparing for a strong private sector-supported campaign for catch-up routine vaccination.

“Kailangan po talaga magtulungan tayo. The solutions are here para sa atin to protect the kids. Hindi po siya malayo, hindi siya imposibleng makuha at libre siya sa inyong mga health center. So we really encourage all mothers [to have their children vaccinated]. The information is out there for you to learn about the vaccines and how safe and effective they are. You can join groups, like Team BakuNanay, to get advice not just from health workers but from your fellow mothers who have successfully protected their babies,” Dr. Ho concluded.