MANILA—President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday urged Filipinos, especially parents of newborns, to not be scared of vaccines, as public trust with immunization eroded in the wake of the fiasco involving the anti-Dengue vaccine Dengvaxia.
“Iyung Dengvaxia, simula nu’ng nagkaroon ng gulo dito, maraming mga pamilya dito sa Pilipinas, hindi lang sa Malabon, na natakot ng mga itong vaccination, at ayaw na, ’wag ho kayong . . . do not be complacent about it kasi ang sanggol talaga kailangan. Iyung Dengvaxia lang, kung ayaw niyo OK lang,” Duterte said in a speech at the groundbreaking ceremony of the new site of the San Lorenzo Ruiz General Hospital at Barangay Panghulo in Malabon.
From at least 70 percent in the last few years, immunization coverage in 2018 slid to 40 percent, said Health undersecretary Eric Domingo.
Last December, the government recalled the anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia after its manufacturer, France's Sanofi-Pasteur, said it could cause severe symptoms if given to those who have not had the mosquito-borne disease.
Health experts have warned against a possible outbreak of measles in the Philippines, as a disease long under control is fueled by patchy immunization programs and declining trust in vaccines.
Measles cases jumped nearly fivefold to 17,300 in the 11 months to November 2018 versus last year's figure, mostly in conflict areas in the south, said doctors and officials of the World Health Organization (WHO).
Last November, an opinion poll by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine showed just 32 percent of 1,500 Filipinos surveyed trusted vaccines, down from 93 percent in 2015. — With a report from Reuters