DOH blames Dengvaxia controversy for 300% increase in measles cases in PH

Marje Pelayo   •   November 30, 2018   •   4509

 

MANILA, Philippines – Measles cases in the country have already reached to more than 17,000 from January to November this year.

Record shows a staggering increase of 367% as compared to the same period in 2017.

According to the Department of Health (DOH), the increase is due to the public’s lack of trust and confidence in the government’s immunization programs stemming from the Dengvaxia controversy.

“There had been certain regions that had been affected by the continuing Dengvaxia issue, the Dengvaxia controversy…There is a significant drop in the confidence of our people in the immunization program of the DOH from 92% to measly 33% ; ang laki ng bagsak talaga,” said Health Secretary Francisco Duque.

According to the DOH, since the Dengvaxia immunization became a controversy in the country, many Filipinos now fear getting vaccinated.

Filipinos have also avoided even the trusted vaccines which had long been in use and proven effective.

This is also the reason why measles outbreak which resulted in six death cases was recorded in Zamboanga last February.

In October this year, measles cases in Bicol have also increased to 300%.

On Wednesday (November 28), 18 death cases were recorded in Sarangani province bringing the total to 84 in the province alone.

Most of those affected are between the ages of 4 months to 40 years old; majority of them were females.

The DOH already created an investigating team to monitor the measles cases in Sarangani province. The cases were identified to have originated from the B’laan tribe where vaccination is never practiced.

According to the Duque, these areas are also conflict- affected which is the reason why health services cannot easily reach the residents.

“It’s also NPA-infested and so this is really one of the challenges under the universal health care. This is something that we need to prioritize,” Duque said.

Meanwhile, more than 200 children were immunized in the affected areas to prevent them from being infected with measles.

Common signs and symptoms for suspected measles typically include fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes, and sore throat followed by a rash that spread all over the body. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

DOH warns of possible measles outbreak in 2021

Robie de Guzman   •   October 8, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Amid the fight against the novel coronavirus disease, the Department of Health (DOH) said it is also preparing for a possible measles outbreak next year.

According to DOH National Immunization Program Manager Dr. Maria Wilda Silva, they are seeing a massive outbreak of measles in 2021 due to low public response to the agency’s immunization campaign.

Silva said the DOH vaccination program only reached around 67 percent, and that those who have missed the immunization would be susceptible to the measles infection.

There is also an ongoing recirculation of polio virus in communities.

She said an estimated 2.4 million children under the age of five are facing risk of infection from measles and polio.

Measles is one of the most contagious diseases in the world. It can cause high-grade fever, rashes, cough, eye infection and can lead to complications such as pneumonia, ear infection, blindness, severe diarrhea, and swelling of the brain.

Polio, on the other hand, is a potentially debilitating disease that causes fever, neck stiffness, muscle weakness and can eventually lead to lifelong paralysis.

If severe enough, both diseases can ultimately lead to death.

The DOH said there is no specific treatment for these illnesses and that the only reliable protection is through vaccination.

To avert a possible outbreak, the department said it will roll out a supplemental immunization activity against measles, rubella, and polio starting Oct. 26.

Under the immunization program, children aged 9 to 59 months old will be given measles-rubella vaccine while 0 to 59 months old will be provided with oral polio vaccine.

The health department said the program will be rolled out in two phases – phase 1 will be conducted from Oct. 26 to Nov. 25 in Mindanao, Cordillera Administrative Region, Ilocos region, Cagayan Valley Region, MIMAROPA Region, and Bicol Region; while phase 2 will be held in February 2021 in Visayas, National Capital Region, Central Luzon, and Calabarzon.

The DOH said the vaccination activity will be conducted in a modified site with health workers donning personal protective equipment due to the continuing threat of COVID-19.

Parents and caregivers are urged to have their children immunized to protect them from measles, polio, and rubella. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

DOH to conduct nationwide anti-measles, polio vaccination starting Oct. 26

Robie de Guzman   •   October 7, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday announced it is set to hold a nationwide supplemental vaccination activity against measles, rubella, and polio starting Oct. 26 amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

In a statement, the DOH said that under the immunization program, children aged 9 to 59 months old will be given measles-rubella vaccine while 0 to 59 months old will be provided with oral polio vaccine.

The department said the program will be rolled out in two phases – phase 1 will be conducted from Oct. 26 to Nov. 25 in Mindanao, Cordillera Administrative Region, Ilocos region, Cagayan Valley Region, MIMAROPA Region, and Bicol Region; while phase 2 will be held in February 2021 in Visayas, National Capital Region, Central Luzon, and Calabarzon.

“Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, a high-quality immunization activity is urgently needed to avert a possible measles outbreak in 2021 and halt the ongoing polio recirculation in communities. We encourage parents and caregivers to have their children immunized,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said.

In the Philippines, an estimated 2.4 million children under the age of five are susceptible for measles, according to the DOH.

Measles is one of the most contagious diseases in the world. It can cause high-grade fever, rashes, cough, eye infection and can lead to complications such as pneumonia, ear infection, blindness, severe diarrhea, and swelling of the brain.

Polio, on the other hand, is a potentially debilitating disease that causes fever, neck stiffness, muscle weakness and can eventually lead to lifelong paralysis.

If severe enough, both diseases can ultimately lead to death.

The DOH said there is no specific treatment for these illnesses and that the only reliable protection is through vaccination.

Duque reiterated that the measles, rubella and polio vaccines are safe, effective and free.

He also assured that all healthcare workers have been trained on infection prevention and control, adding that they will be provided with personal protective equipment to shield them against possible COVID-19 infections.

Davao City to roll out measles immunization drive starting Oct. 25

Robie de Guzman   •   September 29, 2020

The government of Davao City on Tuesday said it is planning to conduct a city-wide measles immunization drive from Oct. 25 to November 26.

In a statement, the city government called on parents to have their children age nine to 59 months immunized against measles during the said dates.

According to Dr. Julinda Acosta, head of the City Health Office (CHO) Technical Division, the city-wide immunization activity this year will be held in fixed posts like barangay health centers, health stations, nutrition posts, as well as temporary posts such as covered courts, instead of the previous house-to-house strategy. 

“This is so ma-ensure talaga natin ang proper screening and precautionary safety protocols. The measles vaccination kasi is injection, hindi patak. Dapat maganda yung area sa immunization sites,” Acosta said.

(This is to ensure the proper screening and precautionary safety protocols. The measles vaccination is administered through injection, not drops. There must be proper immunization sites.)

A virtual orientation will also be conducted with 182 barangay captains all over the city to disseminate the information.

Measles is a disease that comes from the rubeola virus and commonly affects children aged 6 months up to 12 years old. Its symptoms include high fever, cough and colds, swollen eyes, and red rashes all over the body.

The city government said it targets to vaccinate at least 150,000 children regardless of immunization status to make sure that there is no child left behind. 

The CHO noted that this year, the city recorded lower measles cases with 133 and two deaths compared to the 835 cases and 13 deaths reported in the previous year.

Acosta attributed this to community quarantine protocols which prohibit children from going out amid the coronavirus pandemic.

She, however, pointed out that the public health crisis has also created a pool of unvaccinated children due to the movement restrictions and that there is no room for complacency.

“These children are susceptible to the disease and they need to be vaccinated in order to prevent a possible outbreak,” she said.

Acosta expressed hope that parents would have their children immunized as measles is a deadly disease but can be prevented through a vaccine.

“We encourage parents. Paano ngayon na nasa Covid situation tayo and what if naa na pud mag outbreak na mga preventable diseases. So sana maprotektahan nato ang mga bata,” she said. 

(Now that we are in this COVID situation, what if there would be an outbreak of preventable diseases. So we hope that we can protect the children.)

Acosta assured that the vaccines for measles are safe to use.

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