Last October, the Vaccine Expert Panel (VEP) in the Philippines said the country may experience a measles outbreak in 2023 with the low number of children who received routine immunizations in 2022.
At the time, VEP Chairperson Dr. Nina Glorianni said there is a need for catch up immunizations to increase the number of fully immunized children in the country.
Fast forward to the first three months of 2023–the Philippines Department of Health’s Epidemiology Bureau reports 308 measles cases from January 1 to April 1. This is up from the 72 cases reported during the same period in 2022, a 328% increase.
Zamboanga Peninsula (55), Central Visayas (38) and Central Luzon (33) are the regions reporting the most cases. No deaths have been reported.
This has prompted health officials to commence an anti-measles vaccination drive next month with 9,509,585 kids 9-59 months targeted for measles-rubella (MR) vaccines.
Measles, one of the most contagious diseases worldwide, is characterized by high-grade fever, rashes, cough, sore eyes, and runny nose with complications that could lead to pneumonia, blindness, severe diarrhea, swelling of the brain, and even death.