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  • Pedias Urge Parents: Get Your Baby's First Dose of Measles Vaccine at 6 Months

    Children over 12 months and even adults are advised to get the vaccine as well.
    by Kitty Elicay .
Pedias Urge Parents: Get Your Baby's First Dose of Measles Vaccine at 6 Months
PHOTO BY iStock
To read this story in Tagalog, click here.
  • The Philippine Pediatric Society (PPS) and the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines have issued new recommendations on the measles vaccine and the Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine. The first dose of the two vaccines may be administered to infants 6 months old in light of the measles outbreak.

    The measles and the MMR vaccines are typically given to babies at a minimum age of 9 months in two doses with a minimum of four weeks interval between shots, according to the most recent immunization schedule from PPS. It should be available in health centers and administered to Filipino children for free.

    If the measles vaccine is not available, the MMR vaccine may be given as substitute. Children who received their first dose of measles-containing vaccine at an age younger than 12 months should also be provided with two additional doses of the MMR at four weeks apart, beginning at 1 year of age, as per the new recommendations.

    Children (older than 12 months) and adults without a history of measles disease, who are not planning to become pregnant in four weeks and have not experienced any complications to a previous dose of measles-containing vaccine may be given a dose of monovalent measles, MR or MMR including a second dose of measles-containing vaccine to complete the two-dose schedule.

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    Measles outbreak in Metro Manila

    The Department of Health (DOH) confirmed a measles outbreak in Metro Manila and Central Luzon on Wednesday, February 6, 2019.

    Based on data collected by the government body from January 1 to February 6 of 2019, DOH recorded 169 measles cases in Metro Manila alone, a 550% increase from the number of cases recorded during the same period in 2018. Cities with the highest number of cases include Manila, Caloocan, Marikina, Pasig, Navotas, Parañaque, Taguig, Pasay and Malabon, reports CNN Philippines.

    San Lazaro Hospital, an infectious disease hospital in Manila, has already recorded a total of 55 deaths due to measles complications at the start of 2019, all of them children between 3 months and 4 years old, according to Inquirer.net.

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    On her Twitter account last February 1, 2019, Maxine Dompor, a junior intern and a 4th-year medical student assigned to the emergency room (ER) of San Lazaro Hospital, shared that most of the patients she saw being rushed to the ER were children with measles. 

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    “San Lazaro Hospital is an infectious disease hospital. [Pediatric] wards have an isolation room for measles, dengue, leptospirosis, diphtheria, tetanus, etc. But due to the measles outbreak today, all wards/isolation rooms are occupied, including the hallway, wherein four pedia patients with measles share one bed,” she shares.

    She adds they had to turn away patients. “If we were to admit the baby with dengue, the baby would just acquire measles and pneumonia, making the baby’s condition worse,” she writes.

    Measles, more commonly known as “tigdas,” is a highly contagious virus that can quickly spread because it is airborne. The virus is passed from one person to another by direct contact through the air.

    "[It] could spread when a [infected] patient sneezes, wipes his nose, or rubs his eyes with his bare hands and holds on to things where he can leave discharges," explains pediatrician Dr. Candy Aguilar-Ocampo.

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    How to prevent measles

    Though contagious, measles is entirely preventable if children are vaccinated. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), young kids who have not received the vaccine are at the highest risk of getting measles and its possible complications.

    Dr. Ruby Constantino, director of the DOH Disease Prevention and Control Bureau, said in a television interview with CNN Philippines that more than 2.4 million unvaccinated children in the Philippines are at risk of getting measles. She attributed this increase to the Dengvaxia scare in 2017, which made Filipino parents distrust vaccines.

    In a radio interview with DZMM, Health Undersecretary Rolando Domingo said we may see measles cases rise even more during the summer between March and April. “Nakakatakot po na tumaas pa lalo kaya itong buwan po sana pabakunahan na ang mga bata (cases of measles may continue to rise during the summer, so if possible, vaccinate your children this month),” Domingo said in the interview. 

    Even President Rodrigo Duterte has urged parents to have their children vaccinated. “It is an effective way to prevent diseases and complications,” he said during his speech at the ceremonial groundbreaking of the San Lorenzo Ruiz General Hospital in Malabon City last January 30, 2019.

    According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, two doses of MMR vaccine are about 97% effective at preventing measles, one dose is about 93% effective.

    This article was updated on February 28, 2019 at 8:58 p.m.

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