70 die due to measles -- Department of Health

February 11, 2019
Department of Health

Measles cases climb to 4,302.

THE Department of Health yesterday said the measles outbreak in the National Capitol Region, Luzon and Visayas has caused at least 70 deaths.

According to the DoH, a validated data from the different regions of the Epidemiology Bureau showed that from Jan. 1 to Feb. 9 this year, a total of 4,302 measles cases have been reported.

This is an increase of 122% from the same period last year when there were 1,935 cases and 18 deaths due to measles.

Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III said one of the main reasons behind the measles outbreak was the hesitation of parents to have their children vaccinated  due to the Dengvaxia controversy. 

“The causes of measles outbreak involved a number of factors or elements. Loss of public confidence and trust in vaccines in the immunization program brought about by the Dengvaxia controversy has been documented as one of many factors that contributed to vaccine hesitancy in the country. This refers to mothers who became hesitant to have their children vaccinated with vaccines that were long proven to be effective,” Duque said. 

Ages of cases ranged from 1 month up to 75 years old with 1 to 4 years old (34%) followed by less than 9 months old (27%) as the most affected age-groups.  Sixty-six percent of them had no history of vaccination against measles. 

Of the total deaths, ages ranged from one month to 31 years old. Notably, 79% of those who died had no history of vaccination. 

Regions with high reported cases are NCR (1,296 cases and 18 deaths) CALABARZON (1,086 cases and 25 deaths), Central Luzon (481 cases with 3 deaths), Western Visayas (212 cases and 4 deaths) and Northern Mindanao (189 cases and 5 deaths).

Eastern Visayas, MIMAROPA, CALABARZON, Central Visayas and Bicol are regions that have shown increasing trend as to reported cases for this week.

In Oct. 2018, the World Health Organization conducted a study in selected areas in Metro Manila to identify reasons for not bringing their children for immunization.

The top reasons were: fear due to Dengvaxia, and the lack of time among households.

The results of the vaccine confidence project in 2015 against 2018 by London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine on the respondents’ views that vaccines are important decreased from 93% to 32%; safe and effective from 82% down to 21% and vaccine confidence dropped from 93 to 32% respectively.

The DoH has been conducting vaccination activities against measles such as Outbreak Immunization Responses in several regions.

This was followed by a nationwide Supplemental Immunization Activity for 6 to 59 months old which was conducted in 2 phases -- in April 2018 (NCR and Mindanao) and in September 2018 (other parts of Luzon and Visayas).

Despite the efforts of health workers, the SIA campaign had achieved a coverage of 69% during Phase 1 of implementation and 29% in Phase 2.

“I appeal to the public to rebuild your trust and confidence in vaccines that were long proven to be effective, and I am quite sure that all of us sometime in our lives have been recipients of these vaccines which had protected us from various diseases,” Duque said.