CALAMBA CITY -- The Department of Health (DOH) Calabarzon regional office on Monday directed all Provincial Health Offices (PHOs), City Health Offices (CHOs), National Immunization Program (NIP) coordinators and Provincial Health Team Officers in the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon to immediately conduct mass immunization against measles following a significant spike in cases of the communicable disease.
Vaccination sites will be set-up in churches, bus stations, fast-food chains and other public areas, the DOH said in an advisory. Medical teams will also be tasked to go on house-to-house visits to administer the vaccine, if necessary.
The DOH Calabarzon advisory also includes vaccination for oral polio vaccine to all children with priority for those between five and six years old.
“Due to the continuously increasing number of measles-rubella cases we must immediately provide immunization to all children regardless of their vaccination status, whether they have received the vaccine or not, everyone must be immunized,” DOH Regional Director, Dr. Eduardo C. Janairo said.
Janairo said the immunization includes children with ages five years old and above to ensure that everyone will be protected and to further prevent the spread of measles.
According to the Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (RESU), around 560, measles-rubella cases were recorded with 14 confirmed deaths from Jan. 1 to Feb. 2 this year.
The DOH regional official said this year’s figure is 409 percent higher compared to the same period last year, when only 110 cases were reported, and only one fatality.
“Measles is a highly contagious virus and easily spread to others through coughing and sneezing. Persons infected with measles can spread it to others from four days before through four days after the rash appears. The virus can live on the air for two hours,” Janairo said.
In the Calabarzon Region, Rizal province posted the highest number of measles cases with 226; Laguna, 115 cases; Batangas, 114 cases; Cavite, 87 reported cases; and Quezon with 18 cases.
Janairo said that measles appears around seven to 14 days after exposure to a person infected with the virus.
Among the symptoms of measles are fever, dry cough, runny nose, red watery eyes (conjunctivitis), tiny white spots (Koplik) which appear inside the mouth and skin rashes.
“There is no cure for measles but it can be prevented through proper immunization of children aged six months to 59 months old. A person can receive the vaccine more than twice after 28 days or after a month after receiving it,” Janairo said.
He also appealed to all parents to have their children vaccinated against measles as this is their only protection against the virus, assuring them that the vaccine has been proven clinically safe and effective. (PNA)