Malacañang has appealed to the public to have their children vaccinated for measles following the warning of the Department of Health (DOH) of a possible outbreak of the contagious disease next year.
In his Thursday presser, Presidential spokesman Harry Roque urged parents to avail themselves of the government’s free immunization program, saying they have nothing to fear about the measles vaccines.
“Mga magulang, ‘wag po nating katakutan ang bakuna. Itong bakuna naman sa measles, isa ito sa pinakaluma, pinaka-maagang ginagamit na natin (To the parents, let’s not fear the vaccine. The measles vaccine is one of the oldest and earliest vaccines that we’ve been using),” he said.
“Bakit pa po natin i-e-expose sa aberya ang ating mga minamahal sa buhay na mga chikiting samantalang meron naman tayong tried and proven na bakuna laban diyan (Why should we expose our children to danger when we have a tried and proved vaccine against that disease)?” he added.
Roque, however, acknowledged that the public may still have fears about vaccines especially after the Dengvaxia controversy but reminded them that the measles vaccine is safe.
“Naiintindihan po namin ang takot ninyo sa panahon ng COVID-19 at dahil marami kasi talagang nagkalat ng lagim doon sa mga ibang mga bakuna (We understand your fear because we have this pandemic and because of the issues with other vaccines),” he said.
“Pero itong measles naman po, matagal na pong ginagamit ‘yan so wala po kayong dapat ikatakot (However, this measles vaccine, we’ve been using it for a long time now so you have nothing to fear),” he added.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III this week encouraged parents to have their children immunized, emphasizing that the vaccines used for immunization from measles, polio, and rubella are safe, effective, and free.
The DOH and the local government units are set to conduct the first phase of their supplemental immunization campaign from October 26 to November 25 in the provinces in Mindanao, the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley Region, MIMAROPA, and Bicol Region.
Meanwhile, the second phase of the program is set to start in February 2021 in the National Capital Region, Central Luzon, CALABARZON, and the Visayas regions.
The Philippines witnessed an outbreak of measles in early 2019 and officially declared an outbreak in select regions. The outbreak is attributed to the lowered vaccination rates from 88 percent for the past 10-15 years to 74 percent at the time of the outbreak due to the Dengvaxia mess.
The DOH Epidemiology Bureau (EB) has recorded 31,056 measles cases from January 1 up to April 13 last year, a figure much higher compared to the 6,641 cases reported during the same period in 2018. During this period, the DOH had reported a total of 415 deaths.