The death toll in a measles outbreak in the Philippines has reached 136 since the start of the year, the Department of Health said yesterday.
The number of cases nationwide has reached 8,443 as of February 16, almost double the number since the last update last week, according to data from the Department of Health.
Of the 136 patients who died from the disease, 40% were aged one to four years old, the department said.
Authorities stepped up appeals to parents to get their children inoculated against measles, amid a scare triggered by a controversial anti-dengue vaccine.
The health department has dispatched teams to provide free vaccines in government centres around the country in a bid to get wider immunisation coverage.
“Vaccination is the best strategy to combat measles,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque said.
Senator Manny Pacquiao, a world boxing champion, added his popular voice to the call for parents to vaccinate their children against measles.
“In boxing, I have your back. But in our fight against measles, we have to be together,” he said as he expressed support for the Department of Health’s “Knock Out Tigdas” (measles) campaign.
Duque has blamed the increase on low vaccination rates among children due to a scare triggered by a controversial programme to immunise children against dengue in 2017.
The scare focused on a vaccine created by French firm Sanofi Pasteur, which disclosed that the medicine posed risks to children who have not been infected by dengue before immunisation.
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