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DOH urges vaccination as pertussis, measles cases rise

MANILA, March 22 ------ The Department of Health (DOH) urged the public to catch up on their routine vaccinations as cases of pertussis and measles rise in the country. The DOH in a statement reported a spike in pertussis cases in the Philippines. The agency said it recorded 453 cases of vaccine-preventable pertussis in the first 10 weeks of 2024. 


During the same period last year, the DOH only recorded a total of 23 pertussis cases. "Disruptions in routine immunization at primary care during the pandemic are seen to be the main reason why," the health department said. 


Pertussis or whooping cough is a highly contagious bacterial respiratory infection that causes influenza-like symptoms of mild fever, colds, and coughs 7 to 10 days after exposure, the DOH said. "This cough, in typical cases, will develop into a characteristic hacking cough. Pertussis can be treated by antibiotics, but it is best prevented through vaccination." 


Quezon City on Thursday declared an outbreak of pertussis. The local government said 23 whooping cough cases were reported from January to March 20, including 4 pertussis-related deaths of infants below 60 days old. “There is no need to panic. We are making this announcement to make everyone more prepared and remain vigilant. Ang deklarasyon natin ay pagsiguro na we are on top of the situation, and we will do whatever it takes to curb the spread of this disease. We are mobilizing our own resources towards procuring the needed vaccines to keep our children safe, until such time as the DOH supply arrives,” Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte said in a press release.  



The DOH said it has recorded a total of 569 measles and rubella cases, as of February 24. All regions, except for Bicol and Central Visayas, reported an increase in measles and rubella infections in the recent month, it noted. According to the DOH, children under 5 years old and the unvaccinated are the most affected. 


Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease spread by sneezing, coughing, and close personal contact. Its symptoms include cough, runny nose, red eyes, fever, and skin rashes lasting for more than 3 days. Complications include diarrhea, middle ear infection, pneumonia, encephalitis or swelling of the brain, malnutrition, and blindness which may lead to death, according to the DOH website. Meanwhile, rubella or "tigdas hangin" infection in pregnant women may cause fetal death or birth defects, said the agency. 


Health Secretary Teodoro Herbosa said the DOH targets to give anti-measles shot to at least 90 percent of the high-risk population, especially children from 6 months to 10 years of age. He reminded the public to get their pentavalent diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus, hepatitis B, and haemophilus influenza type B (DPT-HepB-HiB) and measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccines, which are available for free at local health centers.  



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