Measles, rubella cases up 153% – DOH
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) has recorded a total of 450 measles and rubella cases so far this year, 153 percent higher than 2021.
The DOH released this data — covering the period Jan. 1 to Sept. 17 — on Wednesday, after earlier warning of an impending measles outbreak by 2023 if the vaccination coverage of children against the said virus does not improve.
So far, two deaths have been reported in these cases, each occurring in August and September.Most measles and rubella cases were recorded in the following regions: Calabarzon with 70 cases, Central Visayas 61 and Metro Manila, 47.
Meanwhile, 68 cases were recorded in the most recent 28-day period from Aug. 21 to Sept. 17, with the following regions registering the highest number of infections:
Calabarzon had 16 cases, Eastern Visayas 12, Central Visayas 7, Northern Mindanao 7 and Metro Manila, 7.
The DOH then noted case increases in Calabarzon, Eastern Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern Mindanao and Soccsksargen during this period, while five out of 17 regions (Cagayan Valley, Calabarzon, Bicol Region, Central Visayas and Metro Manila) have surpassed measles epidemic threshold levels.
Measles clusters were also reported in Cagayan Valley and Zamboanga Peninsula.
Alarmed by the data, Albay Rep. Joey Salceda urged the government to take advantage of the resumption of in-person classes and vaccinate more schoolchildren in order to avert a possible measles outbreak by early 2023.In a statement, Salceda said the resumption of in-person classes is an “opportunity to expand vaccination” among schoolchildren.
He added: “In the long run, we need to build capacity for vaccinating against common diseases. That is one function that an institutionalized Center for Disease Control can boost.”
Salceda made the remarks after DOH officer in charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said the agency needs more funds to hire more vaccinators and improve vaccination coverage because over one million children missed their routine vaccines during the pandemic, including measles shots.
There are three million children eligible for the measles vaccine, but are still unvaccinated.
The DOH has recorded 370 measles cases since the start of the year, which is a 157 percent increase from the 144 cases during the same period in 2021.Salceda described the situation as “an epidemic waiting to happen, especially once you get these children together in closed spaces like schools.”
—WITH A REPORT FROM JULIE M. AURELIO
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