Free Vaccination

LAOAG CITY, April 7 – With the launching of the “Iligtas sa Tigdas ang Pinas” measles vaccination campaign of the Department of Health, health officials are asking parents to submit their eligible children for vaccination.

The Aquino administration is targeting about 18 million children nine months to below 8 years in the month-long campaign that aims to totally eliminate cases of measles by 2012. This is also part of the Philippine commitment to the attainment of Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of combating diseases.

“The main objective of the campaign is to reduce the number of susceptible children that have piled up since we last conducted a nationwide campaign last 2004,” Health Secretary Enrique Ona said, adding that the vaccination is the best way to prevent Measles and German measles.

In Ilocos Norte, Provincial Health Officer Dr Walberg Samonte said they have assembled vaccination teams, or “Bakunadoors” composed of doctors, nurses, midwives and barangay health workers. These teams, he said, will come knocking at doors to give free Measles and German Measles vaccines. Dr Samonte is asking mothers to cooperate and have their children vaccinated. The campaign will end on May 4.

Last year, the DOH noted an alarming 6,200 cases of measles nationwide. Majority of those with measles were children below 8 years and never been vaccinated. Some 30 of these cases resulted to deaths.

From January to March 19 this year, there were 2,075 measles cases recorded by the DOH, 174 from which came from Region and five deaths were recorded.

“It is alarming to know that there are still children dying from measles even if measles vaccination is free and available nationwide at health centers,” Secretary Ona said.

Nationwide mass immunization campaigns such as this have enjoyed a better coverage rate than regular implementation of the Expanded Program of Immunization. Previous measles campaigns conducted in 2004 and 2007 both reached 95 percent coverage, a level never achieved by the regular program. This prompted the DOH to implement the nationwide door-to-door strategy to fight off the threat of measles.

The door-to-door campaign was made possible through the partnership with local government units which mobilized the vaccination teams as well as the World Health Organization.

Measles is a highly contagious disease which can be fatal. It is spread by coughing and sneezing, close personal contact, or direct contact with infected nasal or throat secretions. Immunity against measles is developed following vaccinations.
Likewise, German measles, also known as rubella, is a highly contagious mild disease characterized by flu-like symptoms followed by a rash. Immunity against German measles is also developed following vaccination. However, the primary danger with rubella is the infection of pregnant women as it poses a threat to the life of the unborn. It may cause miscarriages, premature delivery, and serious birth defects, including heart problems, hearing and sight problems, cognitive impairment, and liver and spleen damage.

“It costs between P500 to P15,000 to treat a child with measles but preventing measles through vaccination is free. Let us have our children vaccinated against measles. Let us prevent deaths due to measles and its complication,” Ona concluded. (ANL/CPC-PIA 1 Ilocos Norte)