MANILA - About 90 percent of those infected with measles nationwide are unvaccinated, an official of the Department of Health said Thursday.
There are currently outbreaks of measles in the National Capital Region (NCR) and in Central Luzon, according to the DOH.
Locally known as "tigdas," measles affect mostly children aged 5 and below, but a handful of adults have also been treated in a Manila hospital, said Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo.
Vaccine against the disease is available in local health centers as it is part of the government's immunization campaign, but "a great majority" were not given the shots due to parents' fears of its possible side effects, said Domingo.
The DOH has recorded 196 cases of measles in NCR from January 1 to February 6 this year, higher than the 20 cases recorded in the same period last year.
Since January, at least 55 deaths from measles were recorded at the San Lazaro Hospital in Manila, most of them children aged 3 months to 4 years old.
In Metro Manila, immunization coverage fell to only 40 percent last year, he told ABS-CBN's Umagang Kay Ganda. The controversy surrounding dengue vaccine Dengvaxia was one of the reasons cited by the parents for their refusal to get vaccinated, he said.
Manufacturers of the said drug, which was inoculated into hundreds of thousands of public school students, had warned in late 2017 that it may cause more severe dengue symptoms if administered on one yet to be afflicted with the mosquito-borne disease.
But Domingo said the public should "segregate" the issue because vaccines against measles have been used for about 50 years and have been proven to be safe and effective.