Vaccines in the Philippines (Part 2): Looming Threat of Polio Resurgence

September 13, 2019

Three years after the Dengvaxia vaccine controversy, the public remains doubtful of the government’s immunization programs. In just two years, two major outbreaks occurred in the country. Records show that in 2018 only 66% of the 95% target vaccine coverage was successfully immunized.

Now, PH’s Department of Health Secretary warns the public of a possible poliomyelitis resurgence if people continue to refuse vaccinations. Efforts in controlling the current Dengue outbreak are still ongoing, but Secretary Francisco Duque III urges healthcare providers to position themselves to avert polio.

Proper sanitation practices and efficient sewage system must also be taken into account, according to the health official. He pointed out that two water samples from a sewage in Manila was tested positive of vaccine-derived poliovirus. With a potential threat from the environment and the lack of immunization, the country is at risk of another outbreak of a once-eradicated disease.

The last recorded polio case was in 1993. In 2000, the Philippines was declared polio-free.