May 23, 2024

The Department of Health-Cordillera is encouraging parents who have children eligible for vaccination to have them vaccinated to prevent complications and even death due to diseases that may have been avoided through vaccines.

Based on the Regional Disease Surveillance report of the DOH-Cordillera, cases of several vaccine-preventable diseases have increased for the first two months of the year, yielding an accumulated total of 26 cases from Jan. 1 to Feb. 24 compared to only eight cases in 2023.

DOH-Cordillera Senior Health Program Officer Victoria Malicdan reported diseases covered by the

regional disease surveillance are measles/rubella, acute flaccid paralysis, pertussis, neonatal/non-neonatal tetanus, and diphtheria.

There are 10 cases of measles this year representing a 25 percent increase compared to eight last year: four cases (from two last year) in Baguio, four (five last year) in Benguet, and one each in Kalinga (none last year) and Apayao which also had one case last year.

Malicdan said no one died of the disease.

She said 70 percent of the cases have been vaccinated against measles/rubella while 30 percent were not eligible for vaccination.

For acute flaccid paralysis, there are two cases this year compared to one case last year. This year’s cases involve a nine-year old female from Baguio City and an 11-year old male from Bauko, Mountain Province.

Acute flaccid paralysis is not a disease, but a syndrome which affects a child less than 15 years old presenting with recent or sudden onset of floppy paralysis or muscle weakness of any part of the body due to any cause; or any person of any age with paralytic illness if poliomyelitis suspected by a physician.

The syndrome is being surveyed to detect transmission of virus and prove that acute flaccid paralysis cases are not polio cases, in line with the global campaign to eradicate polio.

For pertussis, 13 cases have been detected: nine from Baguio and 4 in Benguet, whose age range is one month old to 38 years old.

Five of the cases completed their three doses of vaccine, 23 percent got one to two doses, and 38 percent were unknown if they were administered with vaccines.

There is one case of non-neonatal tetanus, a 26-year old male from Bangued, Abra. No neonatal tetanus case was recorded this year.

Non-neonatal tetanus is characterized by acute onset of hypertonia and/or painful muscular contractions, usually muscles of the neck and jaw, and generalized muscle spasms without other apparent medical cause as reported by a health care professional.

Malicdan said some of these illnesses are not new, as it have been subjects of surveillance for a long time now but are not just well publicized compared to other vaccine-preventable diseases.

“It is important for parents as well as health workers to immediately refer such cases to the hospital for proper assessment,” she said.

She said these diseases may become serious due to complications if not attended by a physician and may lead to death, reason why as much as possible, parents should have their children vaccinated against these diseases.

The public is advised to check the schedule of vaccinations for vaccine-preventable diseases with their respective health centers.

Aside from vaccines for these illnesses, the oral polio vaccination is currently ongoing in health centers, which is part of the DOH’s campaign that started last year that serves as a catch-up activity for children who are not yet vaccinated and additional doses for children from two to four years old, as protection from polio. – Hanna C. Lacsamana