Love trumps fear: Payatas parents get babies vaccinated

MANILA, Philippines – After the Department of Health (DOH) declared a measles outbreak in several regions in the country, the choice to have children vaccinated against measles remains a difficult decision to make for some parents.

A year since the Dengvaxia controversy, fear over vaccines has lingered in communities. In Barangay Payatas in Quezon City, for example, parents grapple with their fear of vaccines and the fear of losing their children to a disease. (FAST FACTS: What is measles and how can it be prevented?)

The husbands of Ana, 27, and Joan Pelo, 29, are among the many who are wary of the safety of measles vaccines. The men turned away government health workers who went door-to-door for immunization activities last week. 

Ana and Joan had to get their children vaccinated secretly. 

Noong una, hindi po ako nakuha ng [bakuna] kasi takot 'yung asawa ko. Takot siya sa noong dati na namatay na Dengvaxia. Hindi po talaga siya nagpabakuna,” Ana told Rappler in an interview Tuesday, February 12.

(I didn’t get my child vaccinated the first time health workers came because my husband was scared. He was scared because of news that Dengvaxia supposedly killed children. He really didn’t want to have my son vaccinated.)

Ana admitted that she herself had doubts over the safety of the measles vaccine, even if her nearly-two-year-old son had been vaccinated before. But with news of deaths due to measles, Ana said it became harder to ignore the harms that the disease could potentially bring. (READ: At least 70 deaths due to measles – DOH)

Para naman sa kaligtasan ng anak namin ngayon sa tigdas. Mabuti na magpabakuna na kami para sa kaligtasan po nila. Kahit hindi po alam ng asawa ko,” Ana said.

(It is for the protection of my son against measles. It’s better to have him vaccinated to make sure they are safe. Even if my husband does not know.)

Joan said ensuring her child’s safety was the most important thing for her. This was why, when health workers came knocking once more on Tuesday, she found it hard to pass up another chance to have their children vaccinated against measles.  (READ: EXPLAINER: When should one get vaccinated against measles?)

Sa ngayon po, kinakabahan ako. Alanganin po ako magppaturok. [Pero] nagustuhan ko turukan ito kasi para na rin sa kaligtasan ng anak ko. May napanood akong balita na marming namamatay, maraming naospital,” Joan said.

(I’m still nervous. I was not sure I should vaccinate my son. But I decided to anyway to make sure he is safe. I watched the news and saw many had died and had been hospitalized.)

Enrique Amang, 60, only wanted to ensure the measles vaccine was safe for his nearly-two-year -old daughter. Like other parents, he still had in his mind all the news of deaths supposedly linked to the Dengvaxia dengue vaccine.

But the thought of his child in a hospital made him agree to her vaccinated. He shared his daughter had gotten sick with pneumonia shortly after she was born – a situation he did not want to see happen again.

Marami akong pinuntahan. Ni-refer kami sa ibang hospital…hanggang na-ICU na 'yung anak ko. Doon ako lumuha. Siyempre bata pa 'yun eh, walang alam,” he said. (I went everywhere. We were referred to many hospitals until my child ended up in the intensive care unit. That’s when I cried. She was still a baby, she wasn't aware of what was happening.)

These parents said love for their children overcame their fear. The doubts took a backseat, they said, because protecting their children against a harmful disease was still paramount. 

Sino ba sa magulang na ayaw mabigyan ng ganyang treatment para sigurado? 'Yun lang, may pangamba konti…. [Pero] mahal 'yung anak mo, ayaw mo na may mangyari sa kanya,” Enrique said.

(What parent will refuse treatment that would protect their child? I’m a little nervous...but your children are important. You don’t want anything to happen to them.) – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs, the overseas Filipino workers, and elections. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.

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