Measles outbreak erupts in Metro Manila

Alicia Farmer
February 8, 2019

Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III made the declaration during a media conference urging parents to vaccinate their children, the Bangkok Post reported.

Duque ordered health officers to strengthen surveillance of new cases and alert mothers and caregivers to be more vigilant.

A measles epidemic that broke out in Metro Manila has now spread to other parts of the country, the Philippines Department of Health (DOH) has announced.

The best defense against measles infection is to make sure that you get an MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine, says Dr. Llorin.

Gundo Weiler, country representative of the UN's World Health Organization, said that officials needed to convince families to return to vaccination programs.

Philippine Foundation for Vaccination executive director Lulu Bravo said that they are expecting the situation to worsen. "We locate those children who have not been immunized to cover the 95 percent target", he added.

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In late 2017, French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi, which licensed Dengvaxia, disclosed that the vaccine, in rare cases, could indeed backfire: If children who never had dengue are vaccinated and later become infected, the vaccine may provoke a much more severe form of the illness.

The measles outbreak - which was attributed to "low vaccine coverage because of the Dengvaxia scare" - happened to children between 3 months and 4 years old. "We are now looking at big outbreak and hundreds, even thousands, are expected to die every year if this trend continues", she said, urging parents to vaccinate their children. Then-president Benigno Aquino approved its release before he stepped down in 2016 and the vaccine was administered to children in public elementary schools.

Lawmakers on Wednesday recommended the filing of criminal and administrative charges against Aquino and other officials for the Dengvaxia mess.

"He was saddened... That's why he wanted something done immediately", presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo told reporters.

"We reiterate the policy of the administration that whoever transgresses the law will have to account for it regardless of the social status and the political affiliation of the transgressor", Panelo stressed.

As early as December past year, health experts warned against a possible outbreak of measles in the Philippines due to the declining trust in vaccines in the wake of a controversy that hounded a dengue immunization program in 2017.

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