By Philippine News Agency
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga — The Department of Health (DOH) 3 (Central Luzon) on Tuesday urged parents to bring their children to rural health units and barangay health clinics for free vaccination against Japanese encephalitis.
DOH-3 Director Cesar Cassion made the call during the launch of the regional mass immunization program against the mosquito-borne disease in the region.
Done in partnership with the city government, the regional launch of the mass immunization program against Japanese encephalitis was held at the Colegio de Sebastian here.
Cassion said the mass immunization program in the region will run for the whole month of March, targeting children aged nine months to 59 months old.
“We are prioritizing those children under that age bracket because they are the most vulnerable. This is a one-time vaccination,” he said.
The DOH official said an estimated 1.2 million children in the region belong to the age bracket.
Cassion assured that the DOH has enough supply of vaccines against Japanese encephalitis.
He also allayed the fear of parents on the vaccine, saying it is effective and safe.
“Japanese encephalitis can be prevented through vaccination. The vaccine we are using is proven with track record. It has been used for three decades in 12 countries and 400 million doses have already been given to children worldwide. Thus, we are encouraging parents with children aged nine to 59 months old to visit the nearest health centers for free vaccination for the whole month of March,” Cassion said.
Japanese encephalitis is endemic in Central Luzon, where the highest number of cases was recorded in 2017.
Data from DOH-3 showed 53 recorded cases that year with seven deaths.
Japanese encephalitis is spread through mosquito bites. Its symptoms include fever, vomiting, confusion and difficulty of moving. There could be swelling of the brain, which may lead to coma and eventually death.
Cassion said there is no specific antiviral treatment for Japanese encephalitis.
“Vaccination is the single most important control measure,” he stressed.