2.4 million Pinoy kids at risk for measles
Shiela Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) - September 19, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Saying some 2.4 million Filipino children under five are susceptible to measles, the Department of Health (DOH), World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) will conduct a supplemental immunization drive.

The vaccination drive will be conducted in Mindanao, the Cordilleras, Ilocos, Cagayan Valley, Mimaropa and Bicol from Oct. 26 to Nov. 25 and in the Visayas, Metro Manila, Central Luzon and Calabarzon in February.

At least 9.4 million children are targeted for measles rubella vaccines and 6.9 million for oral polio.

“Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, a high-quality immunization campaign is urgently needed to stop measles transmission and possible outbreaks. We encourage parents and caregivers to have their children immunized,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said.

At least 3,500 measles cases with 36 deaths were reported in the country as of August. Most of the cases are children under five.

Measles can lead to severe diarrhea and dehydration, pneumonia, ear and eye complications, encephalitis or swelling of the brain and permanent disability.

WHO country representative Rabindra Abeyasinghe said measles is highly contagious but preventable.

“We must not lose the decades of progress we have achieved in immunizing and protecting Filipino children even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Abeyasinghe said.

He said the anti-measles vaccine has been saving two to three million lives worldwide every year for 50 years now.

Health experts expressed concern that many children are missing out on routine immunization in the Philippines because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

UNICEF Philippines representative Oyunsaikhan Dendevnorov said the world is at an “especially challenging time when immunization for children is being threatened.”

“All of us must do our part in ensuring children in our family are immunized and that we provide the correct information to parents, community members and our peers. COVID-19 is a challenge and a chance to reflect on what needs to change so that Filipino children can survive and thrive,” Dendevnorov said.

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