By Erwin Beleo
SAN FERNANDO CITY, La Union – The Department of Health Region 1 has recorded 220 cases of measles which put the region under measles watchlist.
John Lee Gacusan, senior health program officer of the DOH-1, said the Regional Epidemiology Surveillance Unit of the DOHp-1 recorded the cases from Jan. 1, 2019 to Feb.11, 2019.
“Statistics shows 281.5 percent increase compared to the 56 cases recorded in the same period last year,” said Gacusan.
Pangasinan has the highest number of cases at about 201, La Union at 16, Ilocos Sur at 2, and Ilocos Norte with only one case.
There have also been seven cases of death this year, all from Pangasinan province.
“Despite the increasing trend, the region remains responsive to address this concern,” he said.
Gacusan admitted there has also been a low turnout of children getting vaccinated against measles because of the parents’ fear from dengvaxia issue.
“After the DOH-1 conducted catch up vaccination and supplemental vaccination late last year, there was 73 percent immunization rate which is lower than the 95 percent goal,” he said.
Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus. It is transferred from person-to-person by sneezing, coughing, and close personal contact. Its signs and symptoms include cough, runny nose, red eyes/conjunctivitis, fever, skin rashes lasting for more than three days.
He informed that measles is preventable, thus the DOH strongly encourages parents with children aged six months to 59 months to avail of free supplemental vaccination offered at public health centers.
He added that provincial down to barangay health centers particularly in the province of Pangasinan have also been conducting outbreak response immunization against measles among children.
“Most of the victims of measles this year were not vaccinated, so we appeal to all especially to mothers to let their children avail of the vaccine which has been proven effective and safe,” he said.
At present, a total of 72,000 doses of measles vaccine are available in Region 1.