As of this time, the number of measles cases continue to rise across the Philippines. Know to prevent any more casualty with the said disease hitting children in public school and avoid the disease from breaking out and spreading, the Department of Health (DOH) proposed a “no vaccination, no enrollment” policy in all public schools.
But before we further proceed with what was proposed, let’s first take a look at what is measles, what to do to prevent from getting the said disease and how deadly it is. Here are some fast facts.
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So what is Measles?
Here in the Philippines, measles is more commonly known as “tigdas”. It a highly contagious infectious disease which virus infects the respiratory tract and then spreads all throughout the body.
But how does the virus spread? According to the WHO (World Health Organization), the virus is passed through direct contact from someone who is already infected by the said disease and through the air as well. This means that a simple cough or sneeze can already pass the virus to someone who doesn’t currently have it. Now for some of the symptoms:
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- Rashes all throughout the body (rashes usually show after 7 to 18 days from exposure, and last about 5 to 6 days.)
- High Fever
- Inflamed Eyes
How is the virus transmitted?
As mentioned earlier, it is transferred via the air and direct contact. As based on the statement by the WHO, the virus will remain contagious and active in the air and infected surface for about two hours. So wearing a mask especially if someone in the household is infected would be good measure to prevent getting the disease
Now, moving to the transmission rate of the virus, it can be passed on by someone four (4) days even before the rashes in their body breaks out and up to four (4) days after it becomes evident from the infected.
If measles is not treated properly, it can cause different kinds of complications, but it can be avoided by being vaccinated.
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Vaccination and how to get it.
Vaccination of the said disease is usually free and you can get it at the nearest health centers or barangay. But why is there an outbreak? Why are some not getting their child vaccinated?
Well one of the reason is the recent Dengvaxia controversy where some of the parents feared getting vaccines for their child.
According to reports, this is one of the reasons people are refusing to take advantage of the free vaccination. Then, another thing is the lack of knowledge. Not everybody knows that there are free vaccination given by the government.
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What is the government doing to counter this you may ask? Well just recently, the Health Secretary of DOH Francisco Duque III ordered health workers to be persistent when speaking with parents and persuade them in getting the vaccine. They are also persuading the parents to avail of other free vaccines.
They also pointed out that getting this vaccine saves millions of lives, which in turn changes the minds of many. According to the statement of Duque, the Measles vaccine already saved a lot of lives because of the fact that taking the vaccine makes them stronger or repellent to the condition:
Marami na pong mga nasalbang mga buhay, anywhere between 3 million to 5 million individuals. Lives have been saved because of our very effective program on immunizaiton. Ito po ang ginagawa naming.”
Also, under the expanded program on Immunization of the government, the immunization they provide covers the following: Tuberculosis, Poliomyelitis (Polio), Mumps, Measles, Rubella, Hepa-B and Influenza type B. So if your child still hasn’t had one of them, try to consult at the nearest health center and inquire.
So what pushed the DOH to make this suggestion?
First of all reasons is that they originally planned to have the Philippines Measles-Free way back in the year 2017 but it seems like the goal hasn’t been met yet. According to the DOH’s latest count on the outbreak on February 16, 2019, there were already a total of 8,443 measles cases since the start of the year. Compared to last year’s count which is 2,393, this number is already 253% higher.
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As of that date, there has already been 136 fatalities due to the disease and complications, significantly higher than last year as well in the same period (death count in 2018 was 23 deaths).
Currently the said proposal is still being reviewed as per the Department of Education (DepEd). They released a statement last February 22 about the proposal as follows:
In view of the rising number of measles cases in the country, the Department of Education (DepEd) is studying the proposal of the Department of Health (DOH) to implement a ‘no vaccination, no enrollment’ policy in public schools.”
As seen on the statement, DepEd is still hesitant about the said suggestion because they don’t want to strip the rights of the students to learn and get quality basic education just because they or their parents refuses to give their child the vaccine.
So, as they take into consideration the proposal of the DOH, the DepEd mentioned that they are also taking a look at different ways to promote vaccination to the parents of students in public schools and will work hand in hand with the DOH to combat not just measles but other highly contagious diseases as well.
The Targets of the Proposal
The DOH targets to have a total of 12 million students vaccinated with the said proposal. Out of the 12 million, 7 million of them are kindergarten students to Grade 7 which are the most susceptible to measles.
With the current updates of the DOH, it seems like the outbreak still hasn’t calmed down. Just this February 26, 2019, they appealed to the public again to get vaccine from measles if they still haven’t got it.
They said that they have already purchased the targeted amount of vaccines to have almost all of the 12 million targets covered from the disease but many are still hesitant to get it. In statement, they said that even after the reported inflation, they are still looking for ways to drop the spreading condition.
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We ensured that all doses planned have been procured, despite inflation of vaccine costs. We unfortunately still witnessed a drop in the vaccination rate due to vaccine hesitancy.”
So all in all, the proposal is good, but the side of DepEd is understandable as well. We should all help hand in hand to counter measles and its spread throughout the country.
We know that some of you out there are really hesitant and afraid to give their child the vaccine, but consider this, this vaccine has already been tested multiple times and has been proven to save lives, compared to the Dengvaxia vaccine, which was just recently released. If we won’t do anything about the said disease, it’s mostly our child who will suffer, and as parents we wouldn’t like to see that.