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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Why it's important to have your child vaccinated against Measles

Measles in a child is not just cough, runny nose, watery eyes and a simple rash. It is a highly contagious disease which may have complications such as bronchitis, ear infection, pneumonia and encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) which can be deadly. Consider the following statistics obtained from the World Health Organization (WHO):

  • In 2008, there were 164 000 measles deaths globally – nearly 450 deaths every day or 18 deaths every hour.
  • More than 95% of measles deaths occur in low-income countries with weak health infrastructures.

Measles has been responsible for many deaths among infants in the Philippines especially in the past and remains a threat. Vaccination is a very effective tool in preventing measles. Again data from the WHO showed that:

"Measles vaccination resulted in a 78% drop in measles deaths between 2000 and 2008 worldwide."

The Department of Health recently launched "Iligtas sa Tigdas ang Pinas" door-to-door campaign vaccinating all children aged 9 months to below 8 years old (originally from April 4 to May 4, 2011) which was extended until May 30, 2011. 63% of the targeted 18 M children have been vaccinated so far. This is to provide a "second opportunity" to catch children missing the first dose and to ensure protection of those children who already received the first dose.

Some parents may be afraid to have their children vaccinated against measles because of unfounded reports tying the vaccine to autism. No connection has been found between autism and the measles vaccine.

Measles vaccine is considered safe. Some children may have a slight fever after receiving measles vaccine but this can be countered with paracetamol, enough rest and sleep as well as plenty of fluids.

The Health Department Secretary is appealing to mothers to take advantage of this opportunity and have their children vaccinated within the next few days.

So mothers out there, you have seen the statistics. It is indeed important to have your child immunized against measles.

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