VACCINE CHAMPIONS: A POLIO SURVIVOR HELPS FAMILIES OVERCOME VACCINATION FEARS
“No child should ever have to suffer from polio. And no parent should ever bear the life-long burden of guilt when seeing their child suffer from an otherwise preventable disease. With every polio vaccine given to a child, I feel fulfilled because I am doing my mission in life. Thank you, UNICEF and Relief International for giving me this unique opportunity,” Rodel Battaler, Social Mobiliser
Rodel Battaler, 40 years old, is a social mobiliser for UNICEF partner Relief Internatioal. He has the same drive and dedication as his fellow vaccine champions, yet something sets him apart—he has polio. Wearing crutches, his colleagues were initially concerned whether he would be able to handle the tiring and intensive fieldwork that his job requires. Bataller works tirelessly, inspiring and encouraging colleagues to be patient and persevering.
On one of their field visits, Bataller encountered a mother refusing vaccination for her child in Barangay Sta. Clara Norte, Pila, Laguna. Together with his colleague, they informed the parents of the recent polio outbreak in their area and the wide concern generated by this. They informed her that the DOH, WHO and UNICEF worked to prioritize polio vaccinations even in the midst of a pandemic, movement restrictions and risks to health workers. Bataller’s personal experience, his genuine concern and skilled delivery of key information never fails to change parents’ perspective towards vaccines.
In the Philippines today, there are around 17 confirmed polio cases. UNICEF supported the government’s polio immunization campaigns and despite the COVID19 pandemic, 13.4 million children were reached with protective vaccines.
Social Mobiliser Rodel Battaler