Health Connect Webinar on Measles and Herd Immunity

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The Department of Health (DOH), Philippine Medical Association (PMA), Philippine Foundation for Vaccination (PFV), and the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP) held the fourth in their series of “Health Connect” online forum, titled “Measles Threat in the Philippines: The Need for Herd Immunity”.

“We cannot understate the value of vaccines,” said Department of Health National Immunization Campaign Program Manager Dr. Wilda Silva, who emphasized the role of vaccination in protecting children’s lives.

Dr. Silva noted that measles is a highly contagious disease that seriously affects the respiratory systems of children. “With no specific treatment for the disease, vaccination is seen as the best form of protection,” she added.

Dr. Silva was joined by the president of the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines, Dr. Mary Ann Bunyi, who explained how measles is easily transmitted from one child to another, and highlighted how herd immunity prevents this. “We want our children to get vaccinated not just for their own safety, but to help in protecting the entire community,” said Dr. Bunyi.

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“We support this government campaign to protect children and their families through vaccination. Ensuring that our children and communities are free from vaccine-preventable diseases like measles will help the country sustain the battle against COVID-19,” said PHAP Executive Director Teodoro Padilla.

Herd immunity is achieved when a sufficient number of people in the community is immune to an infectious disease. It also protects others who have not been vaccinated, including those with very weak immune systems and very young babies. Dr. Bunyi added that “while measles is highly contagious, it is also a vaccine-preventable disease. This means the more children get vaccinated, the lower its rate of transmission.”

PFV Executive Director Dr. Lulu Bravo joined the event as a reactor and emphatically asked everyone to remember the value of vaccination and trust in the science behind its development.

PIDSP Vice-President Dr. Fatima Gimenez moderated the event, and encouraged everyone to do their part in sharing trusted information about public health matters, specifically vaccination.

“As the world awaits a vaccine for our current pandemic, we must remember to continue our vaccination efforts for other existing diseases to fully protect everyone in our community,” Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III said.

“We support this DOH campaign because vaccination saves lives and remains to be one of the most successful and cost effective health interventions of our time. We share in the belief that the people who develop, deliver, and receive them are modern-day heroes because they are working to protect the health of everyone even amidst the challenges brought by the pandemic,” said PMA President Dr. Benito Atienza.

The Health Connect webinar is in support of the DOH campaign to conduct a nationwide measles, rubella, and polio supplemental immunization activity starting October 26.

In the Philippines, an estimated 2.4M children under the age of five are susceptible for measles. The DOH aims to vaccinate 95% of children in their campaign. Phase One will take place in Mindanao, Cordillera Administrative Region, Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, MIMAROPA, and Bicol.

The webinar was streamed live on the PMA and PHAP Facebook pages.

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