By Freddie Velez and Franco Regala
CITY OF MALOLOS, Bulacan – The governors of Bulacan and Pampanga have ordered their respective provincial health offices to further intensity their immunization programs after regional health officials declared a measles outbreak in Central Luzon last Thursday.
In Bulacan, Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado ordered the provincial health office to intensify its “Oplan: Ligtas Tigdas sa Bulacan” (Oplan LTB) program.
Oplan LTB calls for intensive information dissemination on ways to prevent contracting measles; consultation in health centers and hospitals when symptoms of measles are experienced; mass vaccination against measles in every barangay; continuous surveillance of vaccine-preventable diseases and reporting to concerned authorities; and searching and bringing all six to 59 months old to health centers for vaccinations.
According to the Provincial Epidemiology Surveillance Unit (PESU), the province has reported 217 suspected measles cases from January 1-26, 2019, which is 1,708 percent higher than last year’s 12 reported cases during the same period. Among these, 63 percent were recorded from ages five years old and below.
The PESU also noted three measles-related deaths in the towns of San Miguel, Bocaue, and Meycauayan City.
In Pampanga, Governor Lilia Pineda has directed the immediate transfer of infected patients to the newly-constructed Diosdado P. Macapagal Memorial Hospital Annex in San Luis town so that they could be monitored, observed and examined more closely by physicians.
So far, four deaths have already been recorded in Pampanga, out of 190 confirmed cases of measles infection.
Pineda stressed to the public the importance of vaccination, adding that the measles vaccine is safe and free.
DOH confirms an unexpected increase in the number of affected children in the province compared to 2018.
Provincial Health Office (PHO) Chief Marcelo Jaochico urged parents of newborn babies to have their children vaccinated at the nearest health center.
He also stressed that the provincial government supports the house-to-house immunization campaign conducted by DOH in the region.
Measles is a highly communicable disease caused by a virus. It can lead to complications such as blindness, encephalitis, pneumonia, diarrhea and even death if not properly managed.
Early symptoms include high fever, cough, conjunctivitis, and colds.