PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte urged parents to have their children vaccinated amid the measles outbreak in several parts of the country.
Duterte, in a short address aired over state-run PTV on Friday night, said vaccination is the only way to prevent infection. Measles is a highly contagious viral disease.
“Mga kababayan, dumadami ang kaso ng tigdas at ang komplikasyon nito ay mamatay ka. Sa mga anak natin, bakuna lamang ang tanging paraan [para]makaiwas sa sakit na ito,” the President said.
Last week, the Department of Health declared a measles outbreak in several areas of Luzon and Visayas.
Seventy patients, many of them children, have already died. At least 4,302 cases were reported across the country as of February 9, according to government data.
Duterte earlier expressed concern over the drop in immunization coverage in the country from an average of 70 percent in the past years to 40 percent in 2018 as public apprehension over mass vaccination heightened following deaths allegedly linked to the dengue vaccine called Dengvaxia.
Chief Public Attorney Dr. Persida V. Rueda Acosta welcomed the hands on action of Duterte in addressing the spike of the disease in the country.
The President earlier directed the DoH and other government agencies to boost communication efforts on the importance of vaccination.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, meanwhile, said the government would exert all efforts to ensure the proper implementation of Republic Act 10152 (Mandatory Infants and Children Health Immunization Act of 2011) to contain and curb the rise of measles cases in the country.
The mandatory basic immunization for all infants and children provided under the law covers measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases such as tuberculosis; diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis; poliomyelitis; mumps; rubella or German measles; hepatitis-B; and H. Influenza type B (HIB).
The Palace, however, said that the government could not force parents to immunize their children, nor punish them for not having their children vaccinated.