Duterte appeals: Have your kids vaccinated

By Argyll Geducos

President Duterte has appealed to the public to avail of the government's free vaccination program following the declaration of measles outbreak in several parts of the country.

President Duterte (PCOO / MANILA BULLETIN) President Duterte

In a short taped message aired over state-run PTV-4 Friday, Duterte said that a child can die from measles if not vaccinated.

"Mga kababayan, dumadami ang kaso ng tigdas at ang komplikasyon nito ay mamatay ka (My fellowmen, cases of measles have surged and one of the complications is you can die)," he said.

"Sa mga anak natin, bakuna lamang ang tanging paraan makaiwas sa sakit na ito. Maraming salamat (Vaccination is the only way for our children to avoid getting this disease. Thank you)," he said.

The mandatory basic immunization for all infants and children covers measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases such as Tuberculosis; Diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis; Poliomyelitis; Mumps; Rubella or German measles; Hepatitis-B; and H. Influenza type B (HIB).

Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar earlier said that Duterte will be stepping up to help the Department of Health (DOH) appeal to the public to have their children vaccinated.

Earlier, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said Republic Act (RA) 10152, or the Mandatory Infants and Children Health Immunization Act of 2011 requires the DOH, other government agencies, nongovernment organizations, professional and academic societies, and local government units are required to make available appropriate information materials and have a system of distribution to the public.

"So it is clear in the law that we need to mobilize the entire government machinery, as well as our partners in the health sector, to inform the public that immunization is provided for free by the government, that it is safe, and that this is needed to protect the lives and health of children all over the country," he said.

"This is the only way to address the current measles outbreak, abate its spread in more areas, and prevent the occurrence of another one in the future," he added.

The former legislator also said that the government is looking into the proper and full implementation of RA 10152 to contain and curb the rise in measles cases in the country. However, he said that the government could not force parents to immunize their children.

Nograles said RA 10152 does not have the same power as Presidential Decree 996 which states that those who do not have their children vaccinated could be punished with a 200-peso fine or one month imprisonment.

Early this week, the DOH said that the measles outbreak has caused at least 70 deaths, with majority of the fatalities coming from CALABARZON with 25 cases.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III earlier attributed the measles outbreak to the hesitation of parents to have their children vaccinated in fear that their children would be harmed like in the Dengvaxia controversy.