By NITZ ARANCON
and NORA SORIÑO
GSD-Iligan Bureau chief .
A GOVERNMENT epidemiologist here has blamed the Dengvaxia scare for the increase in measles cases in the city and in elsewhere in the country.
Dr. Joselito Retuya, the local health office’s epidemiologist, said the Dengvaxia scare factored in the measles outbreak in other parts of the country and the increase in measles cases here, including the deaths of three children since January. The City Health Office has recorded 38 measles cases so far in the city in less than two months.
He said the children who died and those being treated in hospitals here were found to have not been given vaccines.
“Kanang tulo ka pasyenti nga namatay ug kanang na-a pa sa hospital karon, wala gyud na sila mabakunahi sa measles,” he said.
Although the Dengvaxia is a anti-dengue vaccine, he said the controversy hurt the government’s vaccination programs in that it undermined many people’s trust on vaccines.
Retuya underscored the need for people to get anti-measles vaccines, pointing out that the measles-causing virus could be contracted by anyone regardless of age especially during cold weather conditions.
“Basta wala kay bakuna sa measles, dako gyud ang posibilidad nga matakboyan ka ana nga klasi sa virus. Bisan tigulang na,” he said.
In neighboring Iligan City, the government stepped up the campaign to encourage people to avail of its measles vaccination program.
The Philippine Information Agency enjoined residents in Iligan and Lanao del Norte to go to the health centers, telling them that vaccination is the only way for them to avoid measles.
The Agency said those with measles symptoms shoulld immediately get medical help.
The symptoms include fever, rashes in the body, redness of the eyes, colds and coughs, body pains, weakness and loss of appetite.
It has been reported that the Department of Health has been conducting immunization program among infants aged nine months to 59 months to contain the increasing number of measles cases.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque though said that the government is expanding the coverage of the vaccination campaign by including infants aged six to nine months.