Health workers on massive measles immunization drive in Negros Occidental

BACOLOD CITY, Philippines – The Provincial Health Office in Negros Occidental is on a massive measles immunization drive following a significant increase in the number of cases in the province.

Provincial Health Officer Ernell Tumimbang said on Friday, February 8, that 103 measles cases were reported in 2018 compared to only 3 in 2017,  a 2,333% increase. 

The Department of Health (DOH) said on Thursday, February 7, that it expanded the measles outbreak declaration in other regions due to the spike in the cases over the past weeks. 

The declaration came a day after the DOH declared a measles outbreak in  Metro Manila

Tumimbang stressed that the situation in Negros Occidental is “manageable” as it has not reached the level of an outbreak yet.

Most of the cases in the province were reported in Calatrava, Murcia, Sagay City, Himamaylan City, and San Carlos City.

“At this time, supplemental immunization activity is being conducted throughout the province,"  Tumimbang said.

He explained that this activity means health workers "go beyond" the normal immunization schedule.

"Instead of waiting at the barangay health station or health center, we look for children who failed to come back for the second dose or those who don't go to the health center after birth. Those who failed to come back for the succeeding schedules. We also go to schools to conduct immunization and there are also times that teachers bring the children to the health centers," he added.

Tumimbang also said they are focusing on information dissemination so people will be aware of the effects of measles, especially on children.

He reiterated the appeal of the DOH to for parents to have their children immunized to be safe.  

In Bacolod City, a total of 41 suspected measles were reported from January to February 7 this year, records from the City Health Office showed. 

A total of 75 confirmed measles cases and 263 suspected measles cases were reported in 2018.

Due to the Dengvaxia scare, parents don't bring their children to the health centers anymore, which could be the reason why there are high cases of measles in the province, Tumimbang said.

“We are doing everything to address the situation. We have enough supplies of vaccines for immunization. It's a matter of looking for these children to be given with our routine vaccination,” he said. 

In 2017, Dengvaxia manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur admitted that the Dengvaxia dengue vaccine poses more risks to people who have not been infected by the virus before immunization.

Following the admission, some parents of children administered with the anti-dengue vaccine claimed their kids died because of Dengvaxia. The claims were amplified by the findings of the Public Attorney's Office under Persida Acosta supporting the parents' allegations, which were thumbed down by veteran pathologist Dr Raymundo Lo as baseless and illogical. – Rappler.com