Avail of free measles vaccine– DOH-CAR

BAGUIO CITY — The Department of Health – Cordillera Administrative Region (DOH-CAR) has urged parents to avail of the free vaccination in rural health units and barangay health clinics, following the declaration of a measles outbreak in the country.
Dr. Amelita Pangilinan, DOH-CAR officer-in-charge, said that all routine immunizations are provided by the DOH to the rural health units and barangay health clinics in the region for free.
Among the vaccines provided for routine immunizations are BCG, Hep B, Penta, OPV, IPV, PCV 13 and MMR or measles, mumps and rubella.
“These vaccines are provided to prevent outbreaks of diseases, disability and even death caused by diseases that are vaccine-preventable,” Pangilinan said.
Routine immunization vaccines are far safer, widely studied, and have been distributed for free by the World Health Organization as an effective way to combat the worse effects of diseases, she said.
Pangilinan said the DOH is also conducting massive health promotion activities on immunization to allay public fear due to the aborted Dengvaxia program that influenced the general perception about vaccination.
Health promotion activities are done using the tri-media, conduct of fora, video infomercials to be aired on local television stations, publication of newspaper feeds, reproduction of immunization information education materials, conduct of defaulter tracking, and going house-to-house to vaccinate children and educate the public on immunization.
“The campaign aims to attain the goals of reaching the ‘un-reached’ and limiting the ‘missed children’,” she said.
“Some parents do not bring their children to the center. When we do school-based immunization, parents refuse to subject their children. This is not just true for vaccines. Even our deworming had been affected,” she said.
In the Cordillera region, where the rate of immunization is less than 70 percent, even if only one person is afflicted, it could spread to the entire population and those without vaccines are placed at higher risk.
She said due to the low coverage, several schedules of the Measles, Rubella Special Immunization Activity are done every five years to cover those who have not availed of the routine immunization and “lessen the pool of susceptible who did not have vaccines.”
She said that house-to-house immunization was done in 2018 after noticing a decrease, offering to vaccinate the eligible.
She called on the public not to lose trust in the government’s routine immunization program as they have been tested and studied to be safe and will protect every person.
Parents or guardians should not equate the routine immunization with the Dengvaxia issue because they are different and the routine immunizations have been existing for decades, she added.
“Please avail of the immunization and do not deprive your children of the protection given by routine immunizations. We have a lot of catching up to do,” Pangilinan urged.
“I am happy that President Duterte came into the picture — invoking parents to bring their children for immunization and deprive their children of the protection to fight diseases,” she added.
The DOH on Thursday urged the public to have their children vaccinated against measles, a highly contagious disease, following its declaration of a measles outbreak in the National Capital Region (NCR), Luzon, and Eastern Visayas.
Measles can be prevented by vaccination.
According to the DOH Epidemiology Bureau’s validated data, Region 4-A (Calabarzon) and NCR have the highest case fatality rates for measles, with Calabarzon recording 575 cases with nine deaths, and NCR logging 441 cases with five deaths.
They are followed by Central Luzon, which has 192 cases, four deaths; Western Visayas with 104 cases, three deaths; and Central Visayas with 71 cases, one death.
In the Cordillera region, a 508 percent increase in the number of measles cases from January 1 to February 2 compared to the same period in 2018 was recorded.
A total of 79 cases were monitored during the period compared to 13 cases last year. No death was recorded.
Pangilinan said Baguio recorded the biggest increase at 5,500 percent with 56 cases compared to the one case recorded in 2018.
Data provided by the different disease reporting units (DRU) of the six provinces and Baguio City to the DOH-CAR show that Benguet has 14 cases compared to the two cases last year (600 percent increase); Ifugao recorded a 50 percent decrease or two cases this year and four last year; and Apayao recorded a 20 percent decrease or four cases this year versus the five cases in 2018.
Kalinga and Mountain Province have two cases each this year and zero last year while Abra has not recorded any case this year.
Pangilinan called on the parents to seek medical assistance even for simple fever — one of the symptoms of measles.
“We go back to our fever surveillance — do not wait or self-medicate at home. Measles has worse complications and can lead to death if unattended,” she said.
Monitoring report from the Baguio Health Services Office (BHSO) from January 1 to February 8 show that there are 59 measles cases in 12 districts — an increase of three cases from the DOH report as of February 1.
Based on the data provided, residents aged 25 and above comprise 21 percent of those who got sick of measles during the period; 19 percent for those zero to nine months old; 18 percent for the one to four years old and the 20 to 24 years old.
Pangilinan said DOH-CAR has set a 95 percent annual target of immunization several years ago. However, records show a low accomplishment rate.
In 2014, DOH recorded a 72.51 percent accomplishment rate; 72.45 percent in 2015; 67.42 percent in 2016; 60.82 percent in 2017.
For the period of 2016 to 2017, a decrease of 9.76 percent was noted.
For 2018, DOH-CAR has yet to receive the data from the different provinces and cities in the region. **PNA

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