By Analou De Vera
The situation on the ground is encouraging, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III reported as more parents now allow their children to have measles vaccine shots given by health workers amid the measles outbreak.
“Ako po ay natutuwa na yung mga magulang ngayon ay mukhang nagbabago na ang kanilang pananaw patungkol sa ating immunization program ng DOH (I am glad that parents are now changing their mindset on the immunization program of the DOH],” Duque III said in a press briefing in Quezon City.
Duque aired this observation after his team visited the populous Baseco area in Manila and Payatas in Quezon City aside from hospital visits in key areas in Metro Manila.
“Maganda na yung nakita ko lalo na sa Baseco… na ang dami ng nagpapabakuna…
Malayong-malayo ito sa ating nasasaksihan na halos wala talagang pumipila, pumupunta (In health centers (what I witnessed particularly in Baseco is encouraging that more children are getting measles vaccine shots. This is far from what I’ve seen in the past days where no one was going to the health centers and line up to get the vaccines),” he said.
“Nakakagaan ng kalooban na ngayon, sana naman, harinawa, patuloy ang kanilang tiwala sa pagpapabakuna (This is encouraging and I hope that they continue to trust our vaccination program),” Duque added.
“The causes of measles outbreak involved a number of factors or elements. Loss of public confidence and trust in vaccines in the immunization program brought about by the Dengvaxia controversy has been documented as one of many factors that contributed to vaccine hesitancy in the country,” Duque admitted.
“I appeal to the public to rebuild your trust and confidence in vaccines that were long proven to be effective, and I am quite sure that all of us sometime
in our lives have been recipients of these vaccines which had protected us from various diseases,” he appealed anew.
Enough supply of vaccines
In order to encourage more parents to have their children vaccinated, Duque called on local government units to extend the operating hours of health centers in their areas.
“We call on the regional directors to make sure to ask mayors if they can extend the number of hours even on weekends, like up to 6 a.m.,” he said.
The measles outbreak, he said is not yet controlled.
“Hindi pa. Meron pa rin tayong mga binabantayan. (Not yet. We are still monitoring some areas We will keep the monitoring as active as possible,” he said.
Data from the DOH Epidemiology Bureau showed a total of 4,302 confirmed measles cases nationwide including 70 deaths from January 1 to February 9.
Duque said the death toll varies because the said medical institution is an “end referral center.”
“Yung sa San Lazaro, is an end referral center, na pwedeng galing… not necessarily just NCR, kundi galing din sa mga karatig bayan, karatig probinsya,
so mas mataas sila, so diyan talaga namamayagpag ang kaso ng measles,” he explained.
Regions with high reported cases are the National Capital Region (1,296 cases and 18 deaths) Calabarzon (1,086 cases and 25 deaths), Central Luzon (481 cases
with three deaths), Western Visayas (212 cases and four deaths) and Central Visayas (109 cases and two deaths).
Northern Mindanao also has a high number of measles cases at 185 cases and two deaths. An outbreak has not been declared in the area.
Duque said DOH has enough supply of measles vaccine.
“So far, we have no such problems from the field… we even have some sectors expressing their readiness to donate vaccines,” he said.