DOH: 1M immunized vs measles in NorMin

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Thursday, January 9, 2014

NORTHERN Mindanao, with a population of more than four million, only has around one million people vaccinated against measles.

But the Department of Health (DOH) in Northern Mindanao assured that more people will be immunized as the agency’s program is ongoing.

The immunization program in the region against measles and other diseases is rapid and continuous even before the outbreak of the disease in several areas in Metro Manila, said Ma. Elena Santua, DOH regional medical specialist II.


Based on their target, she said the count of immunized individuals in the region is around one million.

According to the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) website, Northern Mindanao Region has a population of 4,297,323 as of May 1, 2010.

She added that the DOH in the Philippines has an immunization program against measles every Wednesday that has been going on long before the outbreak.

“Immunization for measles is administered to nine-month old babies, and the follow up is given when they reach five years old,” said Santua.

City health information officer, Rowena Yu, told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro Wednesday that the city health’s immunization program against measles is ongoing.

Like the DOH, Yu said the office has been giving MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine even before the measles outbreak in Manila started.

Yu added that last year the City health office conducted vaccination programs aside from their regular routine.

“We are prepared,” said Yu.

Santua added that last September, DOH conducted a tracing on ‘defaulters.’ ‘Defaulters’ are those individuals who did not receive the vaccine against measles.

As to the geographically isolated and depressed areas, she said in the entire region the health department vaccinated 40,000 children.

DOH also conducted an adolescent school-based immunization program although it was not part of their routine.

“Cagayan de Oro City was the pilot city, and we gave the vaccines to 38 public school students here,” said Santua.

Herd immunity

Although DOH cannot say that the communities in the region are entirely secured, Santua said they have established a “herd community”. “Herd community” means that if there are 20 families in a community 15 of those are immune to the virus.

“So if there are five families who got the virus, the other fifteen will not be affected,” she said.


“Every day there is a threat, whether it is in the news or not,” said Santua referring to the measles outbreak.

But because of the vaccination programs in the region, she said the spread of the disease will be shortened.

She added that “we are always vulnerable and we cannot say for sure that the region is totally immune from the virus.”

“It (measles outbreak) can happen but it will be controlled,” said Santua adding that the region is a big community and it is possible that someone has not been vaccinated.

Remain vigilant

Although there is nothing to worry about in the city, Yu said it is important for the people to remain vigilant.

“There is no worry in the city that what happened in Manila will happen here,” said Yu.

She added that to those mothers whose children did not receive the vaccine yet, they should visit the nearest health centers and seek for immunization.

“Even to those whose age is above the required age for vaccination, they should also visit the nearest health centers for immunization,” she said.

She added that the health centers in the villages have a list of children who are yet to receive the vaccine.

Yu said that if symptoms are noticed on children they should be brought immediately to the nearest health facility for checkup.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on January 09, 2014.

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