The recent measles outbreak has many people scratching their heads and asking, “What happened?” Is it something we could have avoided? If so, where did we go wrong and what can we do to prevent it in the future?
When there is an outbreak, it’s a blatant sign that the game plan didn’t work. It’s a sign that the government, particularly the Department of Health (DOH), should re-evaluate their efforts. If you’re looking for specific reasons, here are a few.
Very few parents know that the Expanded Program of Immunization (EPI) is not enough to protect children from measles.
Not everybody knows that the Centers for Disease Control and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices in the U.S. actually consider measles vaccination before 1 year of age as a dose that “doesn’t count”. For a person to be fully vaccinated against measles, he should have at least two doses of measles vaccine given when he was at least 12 months old.
And when Filipinos don’t know that, whose job is it to educate? Whose job is it to tell parents that vaccination against measles should occur at least twice – once at around 12 months and again before preschool – for it to be truly effective? Whose job is it to promote health education?
The Department of Health is right here in Manila, smack in the middle of the measles outbreak. That’s an unfortunate paradox that tells us how we can’t seem to keep away disease in our own backyard.
“But we have already given free vaccinations” is just an alibi. “But it’s not our fault if the parents don’t find the time to visit the clinic” is a sign that our message isn’t getting through.