In the face of the current measles outbreak declared in Zamboanga City, the Department of Health (DOH) is resolute in its desire to win back the trust and confidence of the public on vaccination, following the Dengvaxia controversy.
“Although some sectors may attribute the outbreak to the Dengvaxia issue, it is actually the result of low measles vaccine coverage in the past years which led to the accumulation of susceptible individuals,” Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III said.
Surveillance reports show that measles cases started to increase in Zamboanga City in August 2017. In 2018 alone, a total of 166 measles cases were recorded.
A case of a six-month old baby boy who died on February 6, 2018 presented all signs and symptoms of measles such as fever, rash, cough, coryza, conjunctivitis, malaise, and dyspnea and was the lone fatality recorded.
Upon interview of key individuals, it was learned that there was a low measles vaccine coverage with the last supplemental immunization conducted in 2014. Selective catch-up immunization was conducted in affected area during the last quarter of 2017 with the aim of increasing vaccine coverage. The DOH conducted an outbreak immunization response on February 12, 2018.
Duque advised the parents to “immediately isolate children with fever and rashes and seek consultation for those with complications such as pneumonia or diarrhea and for health workers to seek laboratory confirmation for suspect cases. Let me reiterate that vaccination is still the best protection against this particular disease.”
Also, all hospitals are reminded to ensure strict implementation of infection control mechanisms to prevent the spread of the disease in the health facilities.
Lastly, Duque further addressed the public, “We appeal to all mothers and guardians to ensure that their children receive the complete doses of measles vaccine, the 1st dose at 9 months of age and the 2nd dose at 12 months of age. Let us not lose sight of the benefits that other vaccines have provided to us. These have been proven to be very effective in preventing diseases as we have seen in the past.”
“Rest assured that your DOH firmly stands with you in every step of the way, truly determined to win every fight in the name of public health,” the health chief concluded.