Issue of March 10, 2019
     
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DOH records first measles casualty in the Cordillera
by Ofelia C. Empian

OPLAN BALIK BAKUNA -- A family ensures that their baby girl gets shots of measles and Japanese encephalitis vaccines at the Department of Health fixed-site at the La Trinidad municipal grounds. All parents and guardians with children six months to 59 months are being urged to bring their children to the health centers near them for free shots against measles and JE. -- Diana Palangchao

Anti-measles vaccination drive are stronger than ever as the Cordillera region records its first death in 18 years due to measles involving an eight-month old boy from La Trinidad, Benguet.

Department of Health-Cordillera Medical Officer IV Alexei Marrero said the infant died due to complications after having measles. “We know that it is increasing, so we do what we can to prevent an outbreak in our region,” Marrero said.

Benguet Provincial Health Officer I Meliarazon Dulay said the eight-month-old infant, who was not vaccinated yet was admitted at the Baguio General Hospital due to complications with pneumonia. 

“One will not die due to measles but due to complications brought by it. It doesn’t mean that if you are vaccinated you will not have measles, at least it will lessen and prevent complications,” Dulay said. 

She said the initial age set for anti-measles vaccination is at nine months old but with the recent case and the increasing measles cases in the region, health officials lowered the vaccination age to six months old to 59 months old or about five years of age.

DOH-Cordillera records show there were a total of 303 suspected cases of measles in the region from Jan. 1 to March 7 of this year compared to 21 suspected cases during the same period last year.

This year, Baguio has the most number of cases with 154 followed by Benguet with 94, Apayao with 17, Abra with 15, Mountain Province with 11, Ifugao with eight and Kalinga with four cases. 

Following the death of the infant due to measles, Benguet Provincial Health Office Medical Officer III Antonette Agpas said it is important for the infant and children within the whole community to be immunized.

She said 95 percent of those eligible for vaccination must be vaccinated or what they call the “herd immunity.”

She added health workers are emphasizing that eligible children must be vaccinated at the right time especially now there is mass immunization. At present only 54 percent are fully immunized children in the province.

The public can avail of anti-measles and anti Japanese encephalitis vaccinations in their respective regional health units.

In La Trinidad, Benguet the DOH-CAR has setup immunization booths at the Benguet General Hospital, public market, and at the Strawberry Lane until the end of March.


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