Cebu News

Parents, Dengvaxia scare blamed for rising measles cases in Central Visayas

May B. Miasco - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — Parents, who refused to get their children vaccinated, and Dengvaxia scare are blamed for the rapid spread of measles, one of the world's leading killers of children, in Central Visayas.

Surveillance unit of the Department of Health (DOH) in Region 7 noted that measles cases have skyrocketed to 559 percent this year.

Comparative data from the regional office showed that at least 291 cases, including one death, were reported from January 1 to October 13, 2018. Forty-four cases were only recorded in the same period last year.

Majority of the cases are reported in Dumaguete City and Bacong town in Negros Oriental, which was earlier declared with measles outbreak.

In Cebu province, 16 measles cases were recorded in Cebu City.

The cities of Lapu-Lapu and Mandaue also were among the 10 localities with most number of measles patients.

DOH-7 Child Health Program coordinator Ruff Vincent Valdevieso told reporters that several children have missed their scheduled routine immunization.

He said parents and guardians may not realize that their children may be at risk of severe diseases resulting in blindness or physical disabilities if they are not protected through vaccines.

Parents have refused to get their children vaccinated at the health centers for fear that the vaccines may pose danger to their young ones after hearing stories about the controversial Dengvaxia dengue vaccine, which some parents blamed for at least 49 child deaths.

More than 830,000 children have been vaccinated with Dengvaxia since it was launched during the term of former health secretary Janette Garin. Dengvaxia vaccination was suspended last year.

Health officials said child immunization has significantly declined due to “Dengvaxia scare.”

Authorities said parents need not be afraid of the other vaccination programs like measles and pentavalent vaccines since these have been proven and tested for decades already.

Valdevieso said measles is very contagious, adding that it spreads when an infected person breathes coughs or sneezes.

He said the health department is actively seeking out children who had missed out on immunization to prevent the further spread of measles.

“We reiterate our appeal to the public... not to let their children miss out on this life-saving prevention against measles,” he said.

Starting today, all barangay health centers are reopened for the region-wide supplemented immunization for infants and children who have yet to complete the doses for measles and polio vaccines. (FREEMAN)

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