Potential measles outbreak next year seen

The Department of Health on Tuesday warned the public about the potential measles outbreak in the early part of 2023 should the immunization rate continue to drop.

In a media briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that data showed at least three million children in the country are now susceptible to the viral respiratory illness.

“That is why the WHO and UNICEF are flagging and warning us that we need to strengthen our immunization because there might be an impending measles outbreak in the country by next year if we are not going to do anything,” Vergeire said.

She noted that she immediately called for a meeting with the local government units to intensify the country’s routine immunization.

“We need the whole of government and whole of society approach on this to prevent the spread of these kinds of diseases,” she said.

Vergeire also said that the fully-immunized child coverage in the country is at 62.9 percent, still far from the target of 95 percent.

“If we will compare it to our previous data, the current coverage is really low,” she said.

The Health official attributed the low jab uptake to the Covid-19 pandemic, which she said “restricted” many parents to get their children inoculated.

She also said that vaccine hesitancy also played a role in why there is a decrease in the routine immunization rate in the country.

“This is one of the things that we are trying to strengthen right now — routine immunization. Hesitancy is still there but I think with the right information, with the help of the stakeholders and medical societies, parents will be enticed to let their children get vaccinated,” she stressed.

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