BAGUIO CITY – The public is urged to avail of the government's free vaccines for measles and Japanese encephalitis following an increasing number of measle cases in the city.
“Please avail of the mass immunization campaign because it is the only way we can protect our children from the serious effects of the infectious disease," city health services office (CHSO) chief, Dr. Rowena Galpo said on Monday.
The government provides vaccines for measles and Japanese encephalitis for free to children aged six to 59 months and nine to 59 months, respectively.
The City Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (CESU) of the Baguio Health Services Office (HSO) reported that measles cases rose to 170 from January 1 to March 9, 2019 compared to the four cases during the same period in 2018. While no deaths were recorded, the figure represents a 4,150 percent increase.
Dr. Donnabel Tubera, in their CESU surveillance report, said they have also noted a low turn-out in the availment of vaccines under the ongoing “Oplan Culex” mass immunization, with only 9,443 children given anti-measles vaccines from Feb. 18 to March 12 or only 27.41 percent out of the 34,450 target.
For Japanese encephalitis, 6,267 availed or an 18.89 percent accomplishment rate compared to the 34,450 target.
The two vaccines are given together with the oral polio vaccine (OPV) and Vitamin A supplementation, which also recorded low availment.
The statistics were consolidated from the district health centers, SLU Hospital of the Sacred Heart Out-Patient Department, Baguio General Hospital Under-Five Clinic, private clinics and the Department of Health-Cordillera.
Mayor Mauricio Domogan, in an earlier press conference, also appealed to the public to temporarily set aside religious beliefs for the children's protection.
"We understand that there are religious beliefs practiced by some of our brothers and sisters but we are appealing to them to avail of the vaccines and protect their children from the dreaded disease," he said.
He added that there have been many victims, deaths because of the side effect, which could have been prevented if the children have been immunized.
The mayor also said that measles and JE vaccines have been proven and tested to be safe by local and international health authorities for several years so there is no need to worry.
Galpo said they hope to have more of the target patients immunized on the last two weeks of the campaign.
She said medical teams would be deployed and conduct a house-to-house vaccination.
Galpo said Oplan Culex was launched on February 12 and will last until March 31. The program was piloted in four regions of the country which include Regions 1, 2, 3 and Cordillera.
The campaign was expanded after an increase in the number of measles cases was noted in several regions of the country. (PNA)