2 Samal sects reject polio immunization

THE Department of Health Region 11 Office based in Davao City will try hard in convincing two anti-immunization religious groups in Island Garden City of Samal to allow health volunteers to administer anti-polio vaccines in their communities to prevent possible polio outbreak.

"Patak Polio" health volunteers recently reported that religious groups called Dose ka Panon and Dios Amahan in Kaputian, Samal prevented children from receiving oral polio immunization as it is allegedly against the laws of their religion.

DOH officials said that the said religious communities have more than 50 children qualified by the anti-polio immunization.

DOH Regional Director Dolores Castillo said that the groups have been rejecting all types of immunization as they believe in God as the only healer of all diseases.

Castillo however said DOH respects the rejection of the said groups. "Nirerespeto natin yan pero we will try to negotiate. Talagang nakakatakot na convincing ang gagawin namin dito," she added.

She raised concern of possible wild polio virus outbreak in the country if children from these religious groups will not be given polio vaccines.

"What if communicable ang virus na yan? So dali lang ang pag-spread sa disease kay dikit dikit man na ilang balay," Castillo said. Igacos Mayor Roger Antalan however said local government will not force the group to undergo immunization.

"We would like to talk to them but we will not force them simply because of the assumption that there could be a polio outbreak of they refuse to do it. Outbreak of such disease could happen in areas where there is no presence of such religious groups," Antalan said.

DOH has been actively conducting a nationwide polio free campaign to prevent entry of wild polio virus in the country.

Though Philippines has been certified by the World Health Organization as polio free zone, Castillo said the country is still susceptible to wild polio virus infection.

DOH is now in its second round of administering polio vaccines to Filipino children aged zero to five years old.

Castillo reported that DOH Southern Mindanao covered 97 percent of its target number of children in the region during the first round last February 2 to 8.

A total of 776,407 children aged five years and below were vaccinated in the first round. As of yesterday, Castillo said that the second round has already reached 28 percent accomplishment. The second round kicked off last Saturday and will run until March 8. OCE