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February 14, 2019 Press Releases

With the gap in vaccination coverage in the country steadily widening since 2014 which contributed to the current measles outbreak in Metro Manila and in some regions in Luzon and parts of the Visayas, Senator Richard J. Gordon called for urgent efforts to increase vaccination coverage.

During the NDRRMC Response Cluster Meeting held last Monday, Gordon, chairman of the Philippine Red Cross, said the Department of Health should boost its information drive on the importance of immunization to close the gaps in vaccination coverage.

"What you need right now is a call to arms to make sure that everybody is conscious of the need to immunize and that kids must be immunized. The vaccination gap should be closed. You have to exert more effort to dispel the peoples' ungrounded fears about vaccination. You have to make the public understand that they should not fear and disregard the vaccines included under the Expanded Program on Immunization because these vaccines are safe," he said.

Gordon noted that while the Dengvaxia controversy may have contributed to the significant drop in vaccine confidence last year, a declining trend in vaccination coverage has already been noted since 2014.

Of the total measles cases recorded, 66% are unimmunized with measles vaccine and 33% has unknown doses. For 2019, an estimated 2.6 million children under five years are susceptible for measles infection for the past 5 years

Measles is a serious and highly contagious disease. It can cause debilitating or fatal complications, including encephalitis (an infection that leads to swelling of the brain), severe diarrhea and dehydration, pneumonia, ear infections and permanent vision loss. Babies and young children with malnutrition and weak immune systems are particularly vulnerable to complications and death. The disease is preventable through two doses of a safe and effective vaccine.

"Parents should be made to understand that by having their children inoculated with vaccines under the EPI, they are protecting their children and communities against devastating, but entirely preventable diseases." Gordon stressed.