Two United Nations agencies have warned of a possible measles outbreak in the Philippines next year on the back of low routine immunization rates, Department of Health OIC Maria Rosario Vergeire said.
“In our latest meeting with international partners such as the World Health Organization and Unicef, they were able to analyze our pool of susceptibility with almost one million children who have yet to receive even a single vaccine shot in the past two years under the pandemic,” she said.
“This is why WHO and Unicef are flagging us and warning that we need to boost out routine immunization because there might be an impending outbreak of measles in the country by next year if we are not going to do anything,” Vergeire added.
A child must have received completed doses of BCG, OPV, DPT, Hepatitis B vaccines, and one dose of measles vaccines before reaching the age of one to be considered fully vaccinated.
Aside from vaccine hesitancy, Vergeire said the pandemic has played a major part in low vaccination rates.
“Because of these restrictions, and the lockdowns, many mothers were not able to bring their children to clinics to have them vaccinated,” she said.
Meanwhile, Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda on Tuesday underscored the need to ramp up vaccination efforts as the country moves to full face-to-face classes next month.
“The DOH said that only 63 percent of children and infants are fully immunized from measles, out of a target 95 percent. That’s an epidemic waiting to happen especially once you get these children together in closed spaces like schools,” said Salceda, chair of the House ways and means committee.
“School could spread measles faster. It’s a good time to explain to PTAs the risks and the protections that come with the measles vaccine. Informed consent is very important. It builds trust and in the long-run would be a better way to encourage more vaccinations,” he said.