The Philippines Department of Health (DOH), together with the City Government of Parañaque, today officially launched the National Ligtas Tigdas Supplemental Immunization Activity (SIA) to halt the ongoing transmission of measles especially among unvaccinated children and pregnant women.

Image/Jim Goodson, M.P.H.
Image/Jim Goodson, M.P.H.

The Philippines is currently experiencing an increasing trend of measles cases based on the latest report from the DOH-Epidemiology Bureau.

From 1 January to 14 April 2018, 5,450 measles cases were recorded nationwide with 905 confirmed cases and 15 deaths. Among these 15 reported deaths, 13 were among those unvaccinated, one was vaccinated but has unknown number of doses and the remaining case had an unknown status of vaccination.

The pockets of measles outbreaks started in the last quarter of 2017 and continue up to present. Outbreak Response Immunization activities were conducted but despite ongoing outbreak response immunizations in affected areas in the National Capital Region (NCR) and Mindanao, measles transmission continued.

To counter the continuing rise of measles cases, the DOH is heightening its measles vaccination through the SIA targeting infants and children 6-59 months of age with measles containing vaccine regardless of immunization status.

“As we launch the Ligtas Tigdas campaign here in the Metro Manila, we hope to reach all parents/caregivers and guardians emphasizing the life-saving benefits of measles vaccination. We call all parents/caregivers to allow their children ages 6-59 months to be vaccinated starting April 25 to May 24, 2018 for NCR and on May 9 to June 8, 2018 for Mindanao,” Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III stated.

The DOH is committed to strengthen the immunization program and reach every child in every barangay. Hence, the DOH shall provide free measles vaccination for this SIA.

“I would like to reiterate to the public, especially to the parents/guardians, that the measles vaccine is safe and we have been doing this since the 1970s. Measles vaccination has saved millions of lives. Let us all protect the health of all Filipino children through vaccination against measles,” Secretary Duque concluded.