Philippines begins mass vaccinations after polio returns

  • Tuesday 15, October 2019 07:48 AM
Sharjah24 – AFP: Parents lined up from sunrise holding sleeping infants as the Philippines launched a campaign on Monday to vaccinate millions of children against polio, which has re-emerged nearly two decades after the nation's last cases.
Years of falling vaccination rates, made worse by the botched rollout of a dengue vaccine, culminated in an outbreak of the preventable disease in September.

"This is for the welfare of my child," Ruth Miranda said after the vaccine was squirted into her child's mouth at the Manila slum they call home.

Miranda's child is among scores who are unprotected in the capital of about 13 million people, where vaccination rates of young children plunged from 77 percent in 2016 to a mere 24 percent in June.

The atmosphere at the event in Manila was festive -- with ice cream vendors and music -- but the stakes for the campaign are high.

Polio, which can cause paralysis and can be fatal in rare cases, has no cure and can only be prevented with several doses of oral and injectable vaccines.

The risk of the disease spreading within the Philippines is high, according to World Health Organisation, due to low immunisation coverage partly blamed to a dengue vaccine scandal.