DOH ROLLS OUT JE VACCINATION IN CAR, 3 OTHER REGIONS
JE VACCINATION. Children below five years old are vaccinated against Japanese encephalitis during the launching of the “Oplan Culex” at the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center on February 14. (Photo courtesy of Redjie Melvic Cawis/PIA-CAR)
BAGUIO CITY -- The Department of Health (DOH) has started to administer Japanese Encephalitis vaccines to children in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), one of the four pilot regions in the country.
"We will be conducting a house-to-house immunization for Japanese Encephalitis (JE) virus for children ages nine to 59 months old in the Cordillera as well in regions 1, 2 and 3," DOH-CAR officer-in-charge Dr. Amelita Pangilinan said Tuesday.
The DOH targets to administer the vaccine to around 174, 032 babies and toddlers.
Pangilinan said Cordillera was included as a pilot area due to recorded JE cases in its areas.
In 2018, Cordillera had 24 laboratory-confirmed cases, with Baguio City having five cases; Kalinga, 5; Benguet, 5; Ifugao,3; Apayao, 3; Abra, 2; Mountain Province, 1.
From 2015 to 2017, there were 36 laboratory-confirmed cases.
Pangilinan said the World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended the inclusion of JE in the national immunization schedules aside from those previously given free by the government in state-health institutions.
JE is a fatal illness that affects children.
"If you survive, there could be neurological side effects,”Pangilinan said, but noted that the disease can be prevented by getting vaccinated.
She urged parents to bring their children to nearest health centers to avoid the increasing number of cases of the virus.
"Parents should not be scared of the vaccine, there were 400 million doses of vaccines that have been used for the same purpose," she said.
"Let us avail the free vaccine that the government is providing. This is at no cost and each one of our children is entitled to the free vaccine," she added.
JE vaccines are used to be given by private doctors only at PHP3,500 to PHP4,000 a shot based on the WHO’s recommendation.
The DOH, however, is looking at the possibility of adding it to the list of free vaccines provided free to babies and toddlers by the government.
JE is a mosquito-borne viral infection transmitted by the bite of an infected female culex mosquito, attacking victims after sunset and before sunrise.
Culex mosquito is a brown-colored mosquito that breeds locally in rice fields, ground pools, water hyacinth ponds, slow streams, irrigation ditches and canals.
Adult female culex mosquitos strongly feed on pigs, but also feed on birds and humans.
With health workers doing a massive house-to-house vaccination giving anti-measles, the same health workers would also be giving JE vaccination. (PNA)