The Department of Health on Saturday reported a measles outbreak in Zamboanga City, prompting the agency and the local government to launch a massive immunization program in villages.
The mass immunization, which began on February 19, will run until March 23. Health workers visit houses in all 98 villages in an effort to vaccinate children aged 6 months to 5 years.
Nearly 122,000 children are expected to benefit from the vaccination.
The City Health Office under Dr. Dulce Amor Miravite declared a measles outbreak after it recorded 100 measles cases since January this year, which was 1,300 percent higher compared to the cases in the same period last year.
Health officials have repeatedly appealed to mothers to have their children vaccinated to protect them from measles, which is highly contagious.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque 3rd attributed the outbreak to low vaccine coverage.
“Although some sectors may attribute the outbreak to the Dengvaxia issue, it is actually the result of low measles vaccine coverage in the past years which led to the accumulation of susceptible individuals,” he said.
One death was reported—a six-month-old baby who died on February 6.
Duque advised parents to “isolate children with fever and rashes and seek consultation for those with complications such as pneumonia or diarrhea.”
He also told health workers to seek laboratory confirmation for suspected measles cases.
Duque told mothers and guardians to ensure that their children receive the first dose at 9 months of age and the second dose at 12 months of age.
“Let us not lose sight of the benefits that other vaccines have provided to us. These have been proven to be very effective in preventing diseases as we have seen in the past,” he said.
with Al Jacinto