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LOOK: Measles vaccination in tents, fast-food chains

MANILA, Philippines – With the country grappling to contain a measles outbreak in several regions, the government is pulling out all the stops to control the rise in measles cases in the last few weeks.

The biggest effort by government includes a mass immunization campaign, which targets to vaccinate about 12 million people against the disease by March. (READ: Love trumps fear: Payatas parents get babies vaccinated)

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said this number is the government's target as it will ensure 95% vaccination coverage. 

Duque said the number also ensured "herd immunity" wherein people who already have measles will be "walled off" from the rest of the population. (READ: Dengvaxia controversy: Immunization drops, measles outbreaks soar)

For this, several government agencies have mobilized resources while nongovernmental agencies have volunteered assistance to address the highly contagious disease. (READ: EXPLAINER: When should one get vaccinated against measles?)

In Department of Health (DOH) Calabarzon, this means making vaccination more accessible in areas outside health centers, such as fast food chains and other strategic areas.

There were also tents set up in the San Lazaro Hospital, to deal with the influx of patients with measles. The hospital has been a ground zero of sorts in the outbreak, where some 300 patients were bring treated as of Wednesday, February 13.

The tents, set up by the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), serve as an extended wing of the hospital, which serves as a the country's referral center for infectious diseases. (FAST FACTS: What is measles and how can it be prevented?)

PRC also set up similar tents in the Philippine General Hospital, Amang Rodriguez Memorial Medical Center, and Cainta Municipal Hospital. 

ACCESS TO VACCINES. DOH Calabarzon Regional Director Eduardo Janairo administers anti-measles vaccines in an immunization center in fast-food chains in Biu00f1an City, Laguna onFebruary 12, 2019. Photo courtesy of DOH Calabarzon

ACCESS TO VACCINES. DOH Calabarzon Regional Director Eduardo Janairo administers anti-measles vaccines in an immunization center in fast-food chains in Biu00f1an City, Laguna onFebruary 12, 2019.

Photo courtesy of DOH Calabarzon

EXTRA MEASURES. Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque inspects tents set up for measles patients at San Lazaro Hospital in Manila on February 13, 2019. Photo by Lito Borras/Rappler

EXTRA MEASURES. Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque inspects tents set up for measles patients at San Lazaro Hospital in Manila on February 13, 2019.

Photo by Lito Borras/Rappler

OUTBREAK RESPONSE. The Philippine Red Cross sets up tents at the San Lazaro Hospital, which has seen an influx of patients with measles. Photo by Lito Borras/Rappler

OUTBREAK RESPONSE. The Philippine Red Cross sets up tents at the San Lazaro Hospital, which has seen an influx of patients with measles.

Photo by Lito Borras/Rappler

CARE. Tents serve as outdoor hospitals to cater to the rise in measles cases across the country. Photo by Lito Borras/Rappler

CARE. Tents serve as outdoor hospitals to cater to the rise in measles cases across the country.

Photo by Lito Borras/Rappler

Data from the DOH's epidemiology bureau showed the number of cases increased to 5,635 as of 9 am on Monday, February 11.

There have also been 87 deaths due to measles from January 1 to February 11 this year. This is 383% higher than the number of deaths in the same period in 2018, which was pegged at 18 confirmed cases. (READ: Measles cases in Philippines still rising – Duque)

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. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs, the overseas Filipino workers, and elections. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.

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