OVER 10K KIDS IN CENTRAL VISAYAS VACCINATED VS. MEASLES
MEASLES UPDATE. Dr. Shelbay Blanco (left) of the Department of Health-7’s Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit briefs the Cebu media on the measles outbreak in Central Visayas. With him at the press conference on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019, are assistant DOH-7 regional director Ellenieta Gamalo (center) and medical officer Dr. Jeanette Pauline Cortes. (Photo by Luel Galarpe)
CEBU CITY – More than 10,000 children and some adults in Region 7 have been vaccinated after the Department of Health (DOH) declared a measles outbreak in nine regions including Central Visayas last February 7.
Dr. Jeanette Pauline Cortes, Medical Officer IV of the DOH Central Visayas Center for Health Development, said in a press conference Tuesday that 10,577 individuals have been given measles-containing vaccines (MCV) since February 12 when the DOH-7 started its region-wide Outbreak Response Immunization (ORI) activities.
However, Cortes said the number is just 8 percent of their target of 371,000 because some parents still refuse to believe that vaccination is safe following the Dengvaxia controversy.
Assistant Health Regional Director Dr. Ellenieta Gamolo said they hope that more children will be vaccinated in the coming days as other local government units (LGU) have started their ORI this week.
“We have already deployed teams to all areas in Central Visayas to augment personnel to LGUs in the conduct of the ORI,” Gamolo said.
She said the number of cases has reached 316 with four fatalities recorded as of Tuesday. The four deaths were all in Cebu Province – in the towns of Moalboal, San Francisco (Camotes Island), Pinamungajan, and Carcar City.
“The last recorded death was an eight-month-old baby boy from Carcar who was brought here to Cebu City at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center. He expired last January 30,” Gamolo said.
Half of the total number of cases was recorded in highly-urbanized cities. Cebu Province, with three highly-urbanized cities, has 222 cases, Negros Oriental has 72, Bohol has 20, and Siquijor, which had none last week, now has two cases.
Dr. Shelbay Blanco of the Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit said the DOH-7 has set up fast lanes in district hospitals to prioritize the treatment of patients with measles and also ordered barangay health centers and rural health units to establish vaccination posts.
Blanco said they have likewise met with representatives of private hospitals and urged them to adopt similar measures to prevent the virus from further spreading.
During an ORI, Blanco said all children aged 6 to 8 months must be given a dose of the MCV and be recorded as zero dose. The first dose will then be administered at 9 months old and the second dose at 12 months.
Gamalo said among the contributing factors in the spread of measles is the misconception of parents that one dose is enough for their children.
“Most parents don’t come back after the first dose. They think the second and third doses are no longer necessary. They believe their children are already immune to the virus after that single dose,” Gamalo said.
Because of this misconception, she said they are also conducting information dissemination in schools and house-to-house education campaigns in the barangays, aside from carrying out catch-up immunization and house-to-house immunization activities.
“Hopefully, with our all-out anti-measles campaigns and activities, the outbreak will be over by the end of March,” Gamalo said.
Meanwhile, the Cebu City Health Office is also planning to put up vaccination posts in malls around the city during weekends.
Gamolo said the City Health Office came up with the idea because parents usually go to the malls with their children on Saturdays and Sundays.