WITH around 2.4 million Filipino children at risk of acquiring measles, the Department of Health (DOH) appealed to parents and guardians on Saturday, October 10, to have their children immunized to avoid possible outbreak in 2021.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the growing number of susceptible children may lead to another measles outbreak next year.
"Kapag sinabi nating susceptible, sila na po iyong at risk of having measles because mababa po ang pagbabakuna natin," Vergeire said in a televised interview.
(If we say susceptible, they are those who are at risk of having measles because they were not vaccinated.)
"Iyong ibang mga magulang naman ay hindi po sila pumapayag na bakunahan ang mga anak nila kaya bumababa ang nabakunahan na mga bata. Kaya tayo ay nagbibigay ng warning na baka magkaroon ng outbreak ng measles para sa kabataan this coming 2021," she added.
(Some parents refused to have their children vaccinated, that's why the number of those immunized is lower this year. That's the reason we're giving warning against a possible measles outbreak in 2021.)
Vergeire warned that measles can cause serious problems such as pneumonia and ear infections, and may even lead to the patient's death.
"Ito pong tigdas na ito nakakamatay siya ‘no. Iyong kumplikasyon ng measles ay nakakamatay, maaring magkapulmonya ang bata, maaring magkaroon ng walang patid na pagtatae, maaari din pong magkaroon ng mga ear infections ‘no," she said.
(Measles can be fatal for children, as it can cause pneumonia, diarrhea and even ear infections.)
Vergeire said children less than one year old must immediately be given immunization against measles.
"Dalawa po ang binibigay natin, isa kapag sila ay nine months na at after niyan may kasama na pong mumps and rubella na bakuna (We give two vaccines, one is for nine-month-old children, and after that, they will be given a vaccine for mumps and rubella) and this is given after 12 months old," Vergeire said.
She added that the DOH will launch a supplemental" immunization program for children who have yet to acquire measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine.
The program will start on October 26 and will last until 2021.
Vergeire assured that vaccines against measles are safe.
In February 2019, the Philippines declared a measles outbreak in select administrative regions in Luzon and Visayas, including Metro Manila.
Reports said the outbreak was attributed to lowered vaccination rates which was allegedly due to the Dengvaxia controversy.
Dengvaxia is a dengue vaccine that was developed by Sanofi Pasteur. The vaccination program was stopped in December 2017 after Sanofi Pasteur warned that Dengvaxia might increase the risk among recipients not previously infected by the mosquito-borne virus. (Jove Moya/SunStar Philippines)