DOH launches 'Ligtas Tigdas' as measles cases rise to 723

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) is set to hold a two-month supplemental measles vaccination drive in the National Capital Region (NCR) and parts of Mindanao to help stop the rising cases of measles in the country.

This is part of DOH’s “Ligtas Tigdas” strategy launched on Thursday, April 12, in response to the 723 laboratory-confirmed cases of measles recorded from January 1 to March 26 this year. (READ: After Dengvaxia scare, measles cases soar to 598

Most of the cases are found in the Davao Region, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Zamboanga Peninsula, Soccskargen, and Northern Mindanao. 

A total of 13 deaths have also been reported so far. 

To address the rising measles cases, the DOH will hold a National Measles Supplemental Immunization Activity for children 6 months up to 4 years old and 11 months in NCR from April 25 to May 25.

The same vaccination program will be held in Mindanao areas with reported cases of measles from May 9 to June 8.

DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III primarily attributed the increase of measles cases to the panic triggered by the controversial Dengvaxia dengue vaccine. (READ: TIMELINE: Dengue immunization program for public school students

Ever since Dengvaxia maker Sanofi Pasteur announced the possible risks of their vaccine, Filipino parents became scared to get their children immunized for other diseases, including measles.

Measles outbreaks were previously declared in Negros Oriental, a barangay in Taguig, Zamboanga City, Davao Region, and Davao City

Duque emphasized the measles vaccine is “safe.” A vaccinated person, however, may feel "generally mild and transient" side effects after getting a measles shot.

“Slight pain, tenderness, mild swelling and redness at the injection site, mild fever and local adenopathy may usually occur. Severe and systemic reactions following vaccination are rare,” said Duque. 

He already told health workers to “woo” parents to avail of free vaccination programs again to help protect their children. –

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.