THE HEALTH department will extend the March deadline of its polio vaccination campaign to ensure no child is missed, two decades since the Philippines was declared free of the debilitating illness.

In a statement on Monday, the agency said it would extend the drive until April.

Two more vaccination rounds are scheduled for Jan. 27 to Feb. 7 and March 9 to 20 in Metro Manila. Health authorities will also conduct vaccinations in Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Zamboanga City, Isabela City and Lambayong in Sultan Kudarat on January 6 to 12.

Meanwhile, two more vaccination rounds will be held in all regions in Mindanao on Feb. 17 to March 1 and March 23 to April 4, the Health department said.

The agency seeks to cover 95% of these areas. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that at least 95% of children below five years old should be vaccinated to contain the virus.

The first case of Polio was reported in Lanao del Sur in September, after 19 years since the Philippines was declared polio-free. Seven more polio cases were reported. Of the total, seven were from Mindanao. — Gillian M. Cortez