Saturday January 25, 2020

2.6 mn Children at Risk in Philippines Measles Outbreak

The Philippines outbreak comes after global measles cases increased by 48.4 per cent between 2017 and 2018, according to Unicef analysis

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Measles, WHO
A health worker vaccinates a toddler against measles in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. VOA

Health experts have warned that about 2.6 children in the Philippines were at risk due to a measles outbreak in the country as more people have died from the disease this year than in all of 2018, the media reported on Friday.

The outbreak has killed 261 people this year alone and most of the victims were children aged under five, a 547 per cent increase that the previous year with 202 deaths, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) found.

“It is completely unacceptable that children are still dying from measles in 2019,” CNN quoted Richard Gordon, chairman and CEO of the Philippines Red Cross, as saying on Friday.

The IFRC, with the Philippines’ Department of Health, is now aiming to immunise all unvaccinated children across seven of the “hardest-hit regions” over the next 12 months.

“We are drawing on the skills and dedication of our two million Red Cross volunteers to go door-to-door and neighbourhood-to-neighbourhood,” Gordon added.

Vaccination, vaccine
A child receives a measles vaccination in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Aug. 6, 2018. (VOA)

Filipinos’ confidence in vaccines fell dramatically after a 2014 scandal involving a new dengue fever vaccine, Dengvaxia.

Those with no history of dengue were at a greater risk of developing a more severe form of the disease after having the vaccination.

Rudy Constantino, Director of the Philippines Department of Health Disease Prevention and Control Bureau, told CNN that vaccine levels for measles, flu and other diseases dropped from 70 per cent in 2017 to 39 per cent in 2018 “because of the Dengvaxia scare”.

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Gundo Weiler, the World Health Organization representative to the Philippines, said the country was now suffering from a measles outbreak “every three to four years”, pointing to large-scale outbreaks in 2011 and 2014.

The Philippines outbreak comes after global measles cases increased by 48.4 per cent between 2017 and 2018, according to Unicef analysis. (IANS)

Next Story

Full Vaccination of Children Reduces the Risk of Hospitalisation: Study

Full flu vaccination cuts child hospitalisations in half

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Hospitalisation
Researchers have found that fully vaccinated children reduced the risk of hospitalisation for complications associated with influenza by 54 per cent. Pixabay

According to a latest health news researchers have found that fully vaccinated children reduced the risk of hospitalisation for complications associated with influenza by 54 per cent.

The study, published in the journal Clinical Infectious Disease, tested the effectiveness of childhood vaccination against influenza and risk of hospitalisation due to influenza complications.

In Israel, as in the US, government guidelines recommend that children aged 8 or younger who have never been vaccinated, or who have only had one dose of flu vaccine previously, should receive two doses of vaccine.

“Children vaccinated according to government guidelines are much better protected from influenza than those who only receive one vaccine, said study lead author Hannah Segaloff from University of Michigan in the US.

According to the researchers, over half of our study population had underlying conditions that may put them at high risk for severe influenza-related complications, so preventing influenza in this group is critically important.

Hospitalisation
Young children who aren’t vaccinated are at high risk of hospitalisation due to influenza complications. Pixabay

“Our results also showed that the vaccine was effective in three different seasons with different circulating viruses, reinforcing the importance of getting an influenza vaccine every year no matter what virus is circulating,” Hannah said.

The retrospective study used data from Clalit Health Services, the largest health fund in Israel, to review the vaccination data of 3,746 hospitalisations of children 6 months to 8 years old at six hospitals in Israel. They were tested for influenza over three winter seasons 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18.

Not only do the findings reveal that the flu vaccine reduced hospitalizations associated with the flu by 54 per cent, but they show that giving two vaccine doses to children up to age 8 who have never been vaccinated or only received one dose previously is more effective than administering one dose, in accordance with the Israel Ministry of Health recommendations.

“Young children are at high risk of hospitalisation due to influenza complications. Children with underlying illnesses such as asthma and heart disease have an even greater risk of getting the complications. It is important to prevent influenza infections in these populations,” said study co-author Mark Katz, from The Clalit Research Institute in Israel.

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The findings support health organisations’ recommendations to vaccinate children against influenza every year, preferably before the onset of winter or early childhood. Children under 5 are defined as having a high risk of influenza complications, the researchers said. (IANS)