Health Secretary Francisco Duque on Wednesday pleaded with parents to take their children to the nearest health center and have them vaccinated against measles amidst outbreaks of the preventable disease in Davao City and Zamboanga City.
"Kinakailangan po ito para maibsan ang outbreak ng measles at hindi po pwedeng baliwalain ang measles. Marami po ang komplikasyon ng measles," Duque said after a meeting with the European Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines in Makati.
Davao City confirmed 18 of the confirmed 300 persons suspected to have measles have died as of February 16. The city health office has yet to lift the warning and cited the low immunization rates.
Zamboanga City declared a measles outbreak on February 13 after it detected 101 suspected cases from January 1 to February 1, a 1,343-percent increase in the number of cases compared to the same period last year.
Health officials feared that lingering fears over Dengvaxia may turn off Filipino families from availing the government's decades-old, time-proven anti-measles program.
Duque, who said that there were also cases of measles in Taguig City, said children could suffer if their parents didn't have them vaccinated.
"Pwede hong malaking kapahamakan ang mangyari sa inyong mga anak dahil lamang sa nawalan kayo ng tiwala sa bakuna ng Department of Health, ay hindi namna po tama," Duque said.
Duque said the dengue vaccine controversy was a "major factor" for the lowered rates of vaccination, a fact he admitted at the Senate blue ribbon committee hearing on Dengvaxia.
"I think it's a major factor," Duque said.
"We have no choice but to bring back to the cover the trust and confidence of our people, the parents, yun pong ating mga magulang, ay manumbalik po ang iyong tiwala sa ating DOH Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI)," he added.
Duque said that, due to the current sentiment against vaccines, readily-available doses may have been returned to cold storage at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM).
A fully-immunized child, according to the EPI, must complete before they are 12-months-old their measles, Bacillus Calmette-Guérin, Diphtheria-Pertussis-Tetanus Vaccine, Oral Polio Vaccine, and Hepatitis B Vaccine. —NB, GMA News