DAGUPAN CITY -- The Department of Health (DOH) regional office has intensified its catchup vaccination in Ilocos Region, especially in Pangasinan, following a high rate of measles cases in the province.
John Lee Gacusan, senior health program officer of DOH-1, said Pangasinan has the highest number of suspected measles cases with 471, of which 23 were confirmed with 17 deaths from the disease as of February 26 this year.
La Union has 50 suspected cases, Ilocos Sur - 22, and Ilocos Norte -13.
Gacusan said the immunization program in the region for the past five years is on a declining trend.
"From 2014 to 2018, there are 201,662 children under five years old who were never vaccinated, Pangasinan with 110,205 of the total number," he said during the Pangasinan Information Officers' Assembly on Thursday here.
In 2019, Gacusan said they target to immunize with anti-measles some 72,974 children under five years old.
"We have mobilized our team to augment health workers in Pangasinan since it is the biggest among the provinces in Region 1 to hasten immunization," he added.
DOH-1 also held an inter-agency meeting with other government agencies, such as the Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), and the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) regional offices to assist in the campaign.
"PIA will continue to help the DOH in advocacy and promotion activities. DSWD involves Day Care workers for vaccination of day care pupils and enjoining parents of Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries. DepEd coordinates with health workers," Gacusan said.
He further said the DILG also mandates local government units (LGUs) to open health centers on weekends for immunization programs.
"Catch up vaccination is a proven strategy to reduce and control the transmission of measles and prevent further outbreak," Gacusan said.
He noted that "cooperation and participation of all stakeholders are needed to surpass such public health challenge faced by immunization program and health department as a whole." (PNA)