Deadly measles outbreak claims 25 lives in Philippines

Leslie Hanson
February 8, 2019

Health workers around the Philippines have gone out of health centers to administer free measles vaccines to children in their communities, after a spike in cases was observed in parts of the country.

Since Jan. 1, there have been at least 55 deaths, mostly children below the age of 4 years old, the health department said.

The Philippine Department of Health has noted a sharp rise of measles cases in Manila, prompting health authorities to declare on February 6 measles outbreak in the Philippine capital.

There has been "a big, big difference", he said. Of those cases, 1,114 were children.

As a result, parents refused to have their children vaccinated against other childhood diseases like measles and hepatitis for fear they would suffered side effects that could also lead to their deaths.

According to the DOH Epidemiology Bureau, the number of measles cases in NCR from January 1 to 19, 2019 has reached 196, as compared to 20 that was reported in the said region, in the same period a year ago. The move was welcomed by presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo Thursday, even as he acknowledged that Acosta may have scared the public from getting immunized.

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

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

In 2017, French pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur reported that the vaccine presented risks to people who had not been infected prior to immunisation.

That triggered investigations in Congress.

The justice department filed criminal charges against more than 30 health officials for the deaths of about 100 children which a probe by the Public Attorney's Office had linked to Dengvaxia.

The DOH chief added that the country's vaccination coverage rate declined to 60 percent following the controversy surrounding Dengvaxia.

The health department reported that vaccine coverage rate plunged to 40 per cent a year ago (2018) from 70 per cent in 2017.

In the first three quarters of last year (2018), the number of unvaccinated children rose to over 960,000 from some 850,000 a year earlier.

"Let us not confuse the issue of Dengvaxia with other vaccines that really have been providing protection for decades", he told reporters.

Appealing to parents to have their children vaccinated, he said: "Your children's lives, their future, are in your hands".

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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