The Department of Health (DOH) is encouraging the public to prioritize immunization from vaccine-preventable diseases through its upcoming Measles, Rubella and Oral Poliomyelitis Vaccine (MR-OPV) campaign which will be held from October 26 to November 25 in several regions. The implementation of health protocols during this campaign is also  designed to prevent any inadvertent  transmission of COVID-19.

DOH Secretary Francisco T. Duque III said that the protection of children against measles, polio, and rubella are equally important during the time of COVID-19. He said, “We should be vigilant about other diseases that can affect some of our most vulnerable like infants and children, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. The child’s first five years are very formative to his or her health. The illnesses we are vaccinating them against can be very damaging and will have repercussions on their growth and maturity. That is why we are urging parents not to take these conditions lightly, but must vaccinate their children as soon as possible.”

The vaccines used to counter measles, rubella, and polio have been proven safe for the past decades. “No child should have to suffer because of them, especially because the vaccines are free,” said the DOH Secretary.

At the same time, Sec. Duque also assured the public, especially parents, that the DOH is well aware of and will address their concerns about safety, saying, “We understand their fears of getting infected with COVID-19 if they go to our clinics to have their children vaccinated,” he explained. “But we have committed ourselves to safety and the clinics will be making sure that health protocols are followed by healthcare workers and patients alike.” 

Bicol (Region V) and MIMAROPA (Region IVB) will be the first locations for the program’s implementation because of the need of the children in those areas to be vaccinated from the aforementioned diseases.

The DOH is also setting the stage for the campaign’s first phase which will cover Regions I, II, IVB, V, the Cordillera Administrative Region, and all of Mindanao. Safe and high quality measles-rubella vaccine (MR) and bivalent oral poliovirus vaccine (bOPV) will be distributed for free, following safety measures. Children from  9-59 months old will be given the MR vaccine while those who are 0-59 months old will receive the bOPV.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), which is dedicated to improving the lives of children and their families, also lent its support for the immunization program  such as the acquisition of 19.2M doses of MR vaccine and 10M doses of oral poliovirus vaccines (OPV). UNICEF’s consultants will also monitor that the local government units (LGU), have the necessary resources and instruction to succeed in the campaign.

Syringes, safety collector boxes, surgical masks and face shields will be allotted for the vaccination team and supervisors. Indelible inks for marking and reporting and recording forms, which are essential to campaign’s operations, will also be rolled out to the different regions.

Sec. Duque has asked for the public’s participation for the vaccination campaigns for MR-OPV. He  enthused, “We are grateful that many organizations are working together towards a common goal.  With everyone working as one, we can ensure that Filipinos are as healthy as they can possibly be.”