Department of Health authori-ties in Region 7 admitted the measles immunization program in the four provinces of Cebu, Siquijor, Bohol and Negros Oriental hit a snag due to the Dengvaxia vaccine controversy in Manila that has created a false phobia among mothers in the rural areas.
The Dept of Health noted: NO DENGVAXIA VACCINE reached Negros Oriental and the other Visayas provinces so there is no dangerous effects in our area.
This false phobia has cascaded so much so that even measles vaccination series is adversely affected and decreased because of public refusal toget vaccinated.
“We have a big problem with regards to our immunization program because of the Dengvaxia controversy since last year that’s why we need media’s help in informing our populace in disseminating the information that the vaccine for measles is safe, potent and effective since more than three decades ago with no record of serious side effects,” says Dr. Socrates Villamor of the DOH provincial unit in a press briefing.
Asst Provincial health officer Dr. Liland Estaccion also disclosed that there is an increasing number of measles cases in Negros Oriental since the last quarter of 2017, DOH is conducting the supplemental immunization activity (SIA) or the Ligtas Tigdas Plus all over the region and the entire country for that matter starting October 22 up to Nov. 23 this month.
Measles or “tipdas” in the vernacular is a highly infectious disease that can infect 18 to 20 other people in a day just from one person.
Target population for the measles immunization activity is children aged 6 months to 59 months old and another dose for the oral polio vaccine for children from zero age up to one year old to counter the spread of the virus.
Assistant Provincial Health Officer Dr. Liland Estacion reported that as of November 3, 2018, the province has 169 total number of measles cases recorded with zero deaths compared to only 12 cases of the same period last year or an increase of 1,308 percent with victims aged one year to 44 years old.
Topping the list is Dumaguete City with 47 measles cases, followed by Bacong with 28 cases, Sibulan 18, Bayawan 11, Siaton 10, Sta. Catalina 6, Ayungon and Tanjay City with 5 cases each, Bais City, Mabinay, Pamplona, San Jose and Tayasan with 4 cases each, Amlan, Dauin, LaLibertad 3 cases each, Jimalalud, Valencia and Vallehermoso 2 measles cases each while Bindoy, Canlaon City, Manjuyod and Zamboanguita with one measles cases each.
Under DOH parameters, even with only one confirmed case of measles, a measles outbreak is being declared.
A low turnout was recorded on the number of children immunized with measles vaccine late last year because of the controversy and maybe because the immunization was selective only for those whom the vaccinators missed, according to Dr. Estacion.
At one instance, out of the targeted 90 children in one public school in Negros Oriental, only one parent signed a consent for his child to be given measles vaccine. The same is true with other schools during the school-based immunization program.
In Siquijor province, the provincial health officer Mrs Daisy Boac reported a total of 47 measles cases from January up to October this year. She said supplemental immunization was conducted in October 22 this year up the present in 12 baragnays in the municipality of Siquijor and in one barangay in the town of Maria.
For Dumaguete, city health officer Dr. Ma. Sarah Talla said of the 47 measles cases in the city, only 30 were confirmed, the youngest victim is five months old and the oldest in 39 months old and 19 were adults.
An immunization activity is being conducted in 16 barangays of the city where measles cases is prevalent and so 1,065 children had been immunized or approximately 11.2 percent of the targeted population.
Dr. Jeanette Pauline Cortes, DOH Medical Officer IV further explained the measles and polio vaccines used in the country are the same vaccines used in other countries around the world since the 1970s up to the present for almost four decades now, proven to be highly effective and safe with no reported complications.
She further said that even as the Philippines is declared as polio-free since 2000, the risk is still there beause other countries are not and so the risk is eminent and the only way to prevent is through immunization.
Dr. Cortes disclosed measles per se can be cured but when it complicates it will result to death because of pneumonia, infection of the brain and ears and the only way to protect is through immunization.
She pleads for mothers to protect their children from measles and polio by bringing them to fixed sites for immunization in their respective areas because one case can infect 18-20 people a day. If nothing is done, it will be a worst scenario ahead of us.jrg