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PH's measles cases spiked by 299% this year — DOH

The measles cases recorded in the country increased by almost 300% from January 1 to October 14, 2023 compared to the same period last year, data by the Department of Health (DOH) showed.

The registered measles cases soared by 299% from 458 in 2022 to 1,829 this year, based on DOH’s latest epidemic-prone disease case surveillance.

Six people have also died this year so far due to the highly contagious disease, posing a 0.3 case fatality rate. No Filipino died from measles last year.

Infectious diseases expert Dr. Rontgene Solante said that such a spike in cases was expected due to the low measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccination rate among children.

“I think this is expected kasi the past year, ang baba ng MMR vaccination natin sa mga bata. In fact, hindi tayo nakaabot doon sa 90% na kinakailangan,” he said at a public briefing.

(I think this is expected because last year, our MMR vaccination among children was low. In fact, we did not reach the 90% vaccine coverage requirement.)

“It becomes a cycle now na ‘pag mababa ang vaccination rate sa mga bata, tataas ang mga kaso and this is now the result because of that low vaccination coverage that we have had in the past two to three years,” he added.

(It becomes a cycle now that when the vaccination rate among children is low, cases will increase and this is now the result because of that low vaccination coverage that we have had in the past two to three years.)

Solante also warned that cases of other vaccine-preventable diseases such as polio, pneumonia, influenza, and pertussis may also increase if the immunization rate remains low.

In August, the DOH announced that it is targeting to completely immunize 95% of Filipino children against vaccine-preventable diseases like measles, rubella, and polio.

Health Secretary Ted Herbosa cited data from the National Immunization Coverage 2022, saying the Philippines remained among the top five countries with the most number of zero-dose children globally and one of the greatest contributors to the number of zero-dose children in East Asia and the Pacific Region.

Even adolescents, the DOH previously said, should also keep themselves protected against vaccine-preventable diseases through booster shots even if they were already immunized when they were kids. — RSJ, GMA Integrated News