Mandatory Vaccination Ordered Due To Measles Outbreak In The Philippines

(Photo: REUTERS/Marko Djurica)

The Department of Health (DOH) revealed on Feb. 8 that it discovered that 96 percent of the measles cases in Central Luzon, Philippines involved children who were not vaccinated. An epidemiologist stated that some parents could be partly responsible for the outbreak because they refuse to bring their children to health centers for vaccines against the disease.

"More children suffered the disease because their parents refused to bring them to health centers to avail of free vaccines," Dr. Jesse Fantone, DOH's Regional Epidemiology, and Surveillance Unit Chief told the Philippine News Agency via phone interview.

According to PNA, the records gathered from DOH-RESU showed that in Central Luzon alone, there are 437 cases of measles and six had already died from Jan. 1 to Feb. 7. It was added that Bulacan was listed as the province with the highest number of measles cases with 144 affected while Pampanga comes next with 136.

Fantone admitted that the parents' refusal to get free vaccines from health centers may have resulted from fear of their children being injected with the wrong vaccine due to the Dengvaxia scare. It can be recalled that hundreds of students were vaccinated with the Dengue vaccine that was belatedly reported to have negative side effects that could even lead to death.  

"Some of the parents reasoned out that they were busy or they live far from the health centers," Fantone said. "Thus, we have been doing a house-to-house immunization campaign."

As per Philstar, President Duterte ordered the mandatory measles vaccination in response to the growing cases in Manila and provinces. The Malacanang declared that Republic Act 10152 or the Mandatory Infants and Children Health Immunization Act of 2011 should be implemented to stop the outbreak and protect the children from the disease.

"The Duterte administration recognizes that this is a public health issue that needs to be urgently addressed, which is why we are focused on ensuring that the provisions of RA 10152 are properly implemented," Karlo Nograles, secretary to the cabinet said.

Aside from measles, the compulsory immunization under the said law also covers diseases including tetanus, pertussis, mumps, rubella, tuberculosis, poliomyelitis, diphtheria, hepatitis-B and H. influenza type B or HIB.

The secretary further said that the directive also tasked the DOH to make sure that everyone will be informed about the immunization law and implement it accordingly. Nograles remarked that this is the only way to solve the measles outbreak and prevent its spread so everyone must do their part.

"So, it is clear in the law that we need to mobilize the entire government machinery as well as our partners in the health sector in informing the public that immunization is provided for free by the government, that it is safe and needed to protect the children," the secretary said. 

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