Wednesday, 24 July, 2019

Measles outbreak declared across Philippines

A Filipino child suffering from measles is treated at a government hospital in Manila Philippines on Feb 7 2019 Measles outbreak declared in Philippines
Gustavo Carr | 09 February, 2019, 08:12

"The measles vaccine is safe and effective and had been successfully used in the Philippines for more than 40 years now", UNICEF Philippines Deputy Representative Julia Rees said.

He warned the public of the possibility of a much graver repercussion if their children are not vaccinated, reminding them of the measles outbreak the Department of Health (DOH) had earlier announced.

Initially the epidemic was only declared for Metro Manila and Luzon, but on Thursday the Department of Health expanded the outbreak area to include other parts of the Philippines.

There has been "a big, big difference", he said.

The three new cases include a woman in her 20s, who came in contact with a measles patient living in northern Taiwan, confirmed as an imported case from Vietnam on January 16, and another two imported cases - one man in his 30s from Haiphong City, Vietnam and a 7-year-old girl from Manila, the Philippines, according to a CDC statement.

The measles cases at San Lazaro now total more than half of the 2,654 cases it had for the whole of past year.

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Pupils line up at an immunization center at an elementary school to have free booster shots against diseases like measles, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus and HPV vaccine administered in Dagupan City, Philippines, Aug. 2, 2017. The move was welcomed by presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo Thursday, even as he acknowledged that Acosta may have scared the public from getting immunized.

Without referring to Acosta by name, Duque said the "drama that they were doing ... really caused a damage to the integrity and effectiveness of the DOH to conduct and ensure that there will be adequate immunization coverage so that [the public] will be protected from vaccine-preventable diseases".

This prompted the DOH to suspend its immunisation programme, which was launched by President Benigno Aquino III.

"We are expanding the outbreak from Metro Manila to other regions as cases have increased in the past weeks and to strengthen surveillance if there are new cases and alert mothers and caregivers to be more vigilant", Health Secretary Francisco Duque said. This represents a 74 per cent increase on the same period of a year ago. "In the recent years, it was the issue of Dengvaxia vaccine that contributed", he added, as the government pushed parents to get children vaccinated.

In 2018, the vaccinations also reached only 60 percent at the height of the dengvaxia scare which Corpin attributes to the rapid rise of measles cases on the same year which reached 28 cases in Cebu City.

"Parents should not wait for complications to set in because it might be too late", he said.