Health workers fight vaccine scare amid measles outbreak

Councilor Joselle Villafuerte says a data from the Department of Health in Davao Region showed that there have been 224 suspected cases, 16 of which were confirmed during the City Council session on Tuesday, January 23. (Robby Joy D. Salveron / davaotoday.com)

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Health officials here urged parents to submit their children to the government’s measles immunization program following an outbreak of the said viral disease.

Josephine Villafuerte, the city’s chief health officer, led this appeal on Tuesday, January 23. She noted that there are parents who refuse or fear to have their kids vaccinated against measles due to the health scare brought by the controversial Dengvaxia vaccine.

“There are those who refuse to be vaccinated because they are afraid. They are afraid because of the previous events… listening to the Senate, listening to the media,” Villafuerte, a physician, said in a radio interview.

Villafuerte admitted there was a challenge of urging the parents to participate in the government’s fight against measles.

These parents, she said, have lost their trust on vaccination programs because of the prevailing fear that these might out to be another Dengvaxia controversy.

“The vaccines we are using are really accurate. It’s been approved by DOH (Department of Health), by WHO (World Health Organization) and we’ve been giving them to children for a long long time already. They should not be afraid,” Villafuerte said.

The Davao City Health Office here declared on January 22, a measles outbreak after more than 200 suspected measles cases were reported from November 2017 until January of this year.

She explained that an “outbreak” was declared “because a lot of cases of measles were recorded and it has to be contained by the outbreak response immunization” and prevent further spread of the virus.

Meanwhile, Councilor Joselle Villafuerte said a data from the Department of Health in Davao Region showed that there have been 224 suspected cases, 16 of which were confirmed from November 2017 to January this year.

She explained that these “suspected cases” were not confirmed through tests but showed measles-like symptoms such as high fever, bloodshot eyes, runny nose, and rashes.

4 deaths due to measles

The councilor also cited that four deaths – children aged six months old to two years old – were also recorded due to complications.

Barangay 23-C recorded the highest number of measles cases with 60, followed by Buhangin Proper with 16 and Barangay Bucana with 13.

Councilor Villafuerte cited that based on DOH’s record, 80% of children in the city were not vaccinated.

She also pointed out possible factors of the sudden rise of measles cases including malnutrition and weak immunity among children, and a large number of transient residents from other areas (including evacuees from Marawi City) who might not have been vaccinated. (davaotoday.com)