Gov’t conducts mass immunization campaign to fight measles outbreak

Sofia Tomacruz
Gov’t conducts mass immunization campaign to fight measles outbreak
Health Secretary Francisco Duque says government efforts are focused in completing the mass immunization in the quickest possible time

MANILA, Philippines – In an effort to abate the steep rise in number of measles cases, government agencies have mobilized their resources geared towards implementing a quick mass immunization campaign.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said several government agencies have laid out specific tasks to ensure communities are protected against the highly contagious disease.

“This government is conducting a massive information dissemination and immunization campaign to encourage Filipinos to get vaccinated,” Duque said on Wednesday, February 13.

“The Department of Health is working side by side with other government agencies in quickly responding to mitigate the measles outbreak,” he added.

All government efforts are focused on completing the mass immunization campaign in the fastest possible time. The DOH says vaccination remains the best defense against measles.

Duque has repeatedly urged the public to receive the measles vaccine, saying it has long been proven to be safe and effective. (READ: EXPLAINER: When should one get vaccinated against measles?)

Duque said immunization activities will be done in schools and communities until March. He said the number of measles cases is expected decrease afterwards as unvaccinated individuals will be given immunization by then.

Though government will be prioritizing the vaccination of children, Duque said adults may still go to their nearest health center to get vaccinated.

The following are the tasks of the different government agencies:

  • DOH – measles fast lines to be established in all DOH hospitals 
  • Department of the Interior and Local Government – develop checklists, targets, and consent forms for local government units in coordination with the DOH
  • Department of Social Welfare and Development – tap day care workers to help facilitate vaccination of pupils and ensure children of 4Ps beneficiaries are vaccinated
  • Department of Education – gather data on number of school children affected with measles, coordinate with health centers for check-ups and follow-ups of students who will be vaccinated by private doctors
  • Department of Transportation – assist in distributing vaccines and other logistics needs 
  • Armed Forces of the Philippines – deploy medical personnel in geographically isolated areas and conflict areas, ensure safety of health workers, monitor cases of measles in military treatment centers
  • Philippine Information Agency – conduct information and awareness campaigns to be localized for different areas

The mass immunization campaign comes after the DOH declared a measles outbreak in Metro Manila, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Western Visayas, and Central Visayas.

Before this, the DOH had been conducting supplementary immunization activities and outbreak response immunization to combat the rising trend in measles cases. 

Data from the DOH showed there were 4,302 confirmed cases of measles and at least 70 deaths due to the disease as of February 10, 2019. – Rappler.com

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Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.