Cases of measles, or tigdas, are on the rise in the Philippines, according to the Department of Health (DOH) in a statement released yesterday, April 24.
Of the 5,450 measles cases recorded nationwide between January to April of this year, 905 cases were confirmed as measles and 15 cases led to death. Compared to last year's 24 confirmed measles cases, the numbers are up by 3,671% as per reports from the DOH-Epidemiology Bureau.
“At least 86% of children who died of measles were unvaccinated,” the Philippine Daily Inquirer reports. The tragic losses could have been prevented with vaccination, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III tells the news outlet. “These were unfortunate deaths. They would not have died because measles can be prevented.”
To stop the disease’s further spread, the DOH launched the Ligtas Tigdas campaign in Metro Manila where the measles vaccine will be administered for free to children from April 25 to May 25, 2018.
The Measles-Mumps-Rubella vaccine (MMR) is administered at a minimum age of 12 months and in two doses with a minimum of four weeks interval between shots, as per the most recent immunization schedule from the Philippine Pediatric Society.
Our vaccination rates have gone down, according to data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) and reiterated by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in a release.
“The proportion of children aged 12-23 months who received all basic vaccinations dropped from 77 percent in 2013 to 70 percent in 2017,” said UNICEF
During World Immunization Week (April 24 to 30), UNICEF urged parents and caregivers to make sure children are protected against preventable diseases such as measles. Though 80% of Filipino children receive the first dose of the measles vaccine, only 47% receive the second dose, according to the PSA. As a result, this still leaves many young children vulnerable to the disease and opens the possibility of life-threatening outbreaks.
Measles is “a disease that can potentially be lethal to a small child,” said UNICEF. Just like how polio and maternal and neonatal tetanus were successfully eradicated in the Philippines through vaccination, Filipinos can do the same for measles.
Take your child to her scheduled well-baby check-ups and make sure you’re up-to-date with her vaccinations. Health centers also offer free vaccines to all Filipino children. Below is a schedule of the vaccines included in the National Immunization Program:
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Find the full childhood immunization schedule for Filipino children ages 0 to 18 years old here.