By Mario Casayuran
Immunization is the best protection against the highly contagious disease that has so far affected more than 100 people in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) this year, reelectionist Senator Juan Edgardo M. Angara said Friday.
Angara, one of the authors of the Universal Health Care Bill that aims to give all-inclusive health coverage for Filipinos, said measles vaccines are readily available for free in rural health clinics across the country.
“We are calling on parents to avail of the free vaccination at any barangay health center as measles is a highly infectious viral illness that can sometimes lead to serious health complications, including infections of the lungs and brain, and even death,” he said.
Angara cited statistics showing that from January 1 to February 9 this year, the CAR recorded 108 cases compared to only 14 cases during the same period last year. This has prompted the regional office of the Department of Health (DOH) to intensify its immunization drive.
Nationwide, over 4,000 people have contracted measles in just one month, and the health department attributed the surge to failure to get the crucial preliminary and booster vaccine shots. DOH stressed that those who died due to measles had no history of vaccination.
The DOH said more children suffered from the disease because their parents refused to bring them to health centers to avail of free vaccines primarily due to the Dengvaxia scare that has undermined public confidence in the government’s immunization program.
Measles can cause life-threatening pneumonia and brain inflammation, middle-ear infection, severe diarrhea, and sometimes death. However, it can be prevented with a safe and effective vaccine.
The vaccine is given as part of a combination vaccine, called the MMR vaccine that protects against measles, mumps, and rubella.
Babies aged 6 to 11 months should be administered their first vaccine shot. At 12 to 18 months, they should get vaccination a second time.