UNICEF urges parents: Vaccinate children against measles

Measles can spread easily through coughs and sneezes

Measles can spread easily through coughs and sneezes

Authorities in the Philippines have declared an outbreak of measles in several places across the country, including in Manila. READ: "Measles under control" In San Lazaro Hospital alone, at least 248 children and 21 adults are being treated for measles, according to its spokesperson.

Initially the epidemic was only declared for Metro Manila and Luzon, but today the Department of Health expanded the outbreak area to include other parts of the Philippines.

The number of measles cases rose from 791 in 2017 to 5,120 in 2018.

It encouraged local leaders to intensify immunization activities and health workers to ensure that vaccines are available to children in every community.

DOH data showed that 10 of the 166 suspected measles cases in the region from January 1 to February 2 this year are confirmed cases.

"These regions are advised to scale-up their response against measles and having all unvaccinated children vaccinated against measles, a proven effective and safe measure to further stop its spread, is required", the DOH said.

The most affected region is Calabarzon, which includes the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon, with 575 cases, including nine deaths.

In early 2016, the health department, under then President Benigno Aquino, rolled out a 3.5 billion-peso (S$91 million) programme to inoculate a million school-age children with Dengvaxia to protect them against dengue, a mosquito-borne disease that afflicts hundreds of millions of people around the world.

Previous year under the routine immunization strategy, the coverage reached 54 percent or 113,209 children out of 210,291 target.

"In this scenario we have a pool of children building up over time who are not protected and who are susceptible to measles", Dr Weiler said.

Linga also called on the parents of children who are already showing symptoms of flu and fever to immediately bring their children to the nearest health center for a check-up.

The disease's complications included diarrhea, middle ear infection, pneumonia (infection of the lungs), encephalitis (swelling of the brain), malnutrition, blindness which may lead to death.

"Vaccinations to prevent measles is available free of cost in government health centers".

The country's Public Attorney's Office indicted government officials in connection with deaths linked to the vaccine. "I can not be blaming her for that", he said. Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra also came to the defense of Acosta, saying she was just doing her job helping the families of children who died supposedly after being inoculated with the controversial anti-dengue vaccine, Dengvaxia.