It continues to be a health threat, especially to newborn babies and young kids.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III has stated that a majority of the cases have arisen from parents' hesitation to get their children vaccinated despite reminders from various health organizations and the Department of Health (DOH).
The reluctance stems from fear following the deaths among grade school children in 2017, allegedly after being given the new anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia. However, there has been no substantial evidence that links Dengvaxia to any of the deaths.
Many parents are only now realizing the importance of the MMR vaccine (to protect against measles, mumps, and rubella), and they have questions about the effectivity of getting late vaccinations for older kids.
Smartparenting.com.ph spoke to Dr. Nicole Perreras, a pediatric infectious disease specialist affiliated with the Asian Hospital and Medical Center and the Makati Medical Center to answer these frequently-asked questions:
Q: Why are there deaths arising from measles now? I thought it was just a simple disease.
A: Measles can have many complications. In small infants, especially those less than six months of age, these complications can be deadly. Pneumonia and ear infections are the most common.
Q: Is the MMR vaccine absolutely safe? I heard of studies it causes autism in kids.
A: No vaccine is 100% safe nor 100% effective. However, rest assured that these risks have been weighed against the benefit of measles protection. Most side effects are pain, swelling on the injection site, fever, and a mild rash. These have been studied over many years.
Furthermore, there is no proven connection between autism and the MMR vaccine. Studies have refuted this claim over and over.
Q: I’m hesitant to get my child the measles vaccine because of the Dengvaxia scare. What should I do?
A: Go to your pediatrician and discuss your fears with them. Without getting into the whole issue on Dengvaxia (which has been widely politicized and unfairly so), the measles vaccine has saved millions of lives. Get your information from a reliable source (your doctor) and make an informed decision.
Q: My child is already 2 years old. Can he still be given the measles vaccine? Will it be less effective than if it was given at 6 months?
A: The measles vaccine can be given at any age past 6 months, and catch-up immunization for protection against measles can be done even if the series is started at 1 year old. It is not advised to be given at less than 6 months of age, and it would be ineffective at that age.
It is assumed that, if the mother had measles before pregnancy or was given the vaccine, there is some maternal antibody protection until her baby turns 6 months old.
Q: If we get the vaccine now that my child is older, does it mean my child will not get the measles?
A: The vaccine can prevent infection if given within 72 hours of exposure. However, there is no 100% guarantee that he or she will not contract the disease for some reasons, as there isn’t any vaccine that is 100% effective. However, reports show only about 5% vaccine failure in patients who received one dose of the vaccine at 12 months or older. Hence, the need for a booster shot at the recommended age.
Q: How many shots are the measles vaccine?
A: Your pediatrician will recommend a shot at 9 months old or at 6 months old during outbreaks. A second shot, usually in the combination vaccination called MMR, is recommended at 12 to 15 months old.
Q: I’m an adult, and I have a young child. Should I also get the vaccine to protect us from the measles?
A: If you have not been given two doses of a measles-containing vaccine, you should most definitely consult a doctor and get immunized. That said, your child should also be completely vaccinated.
Q: Are you absolutely sure that nothing bad will happen to my child if I get him the measles vaccine?
A: There are some mild reactions to the vaccination: pain, redness, swelling, fever and a mild rash. About 5 to 15% of those who get the vaccine will have a fever lasting 6 to 12 days. A rash may also occur in about 5% of recipients. Febrile seizures have been known to occur in 1 out of 3,000 to 4,000 people immunized. In short, while some reactions may occur, the benefit of protection far outweighs these minor adverse events.
This story originally appeared on SmartParenting.com.ph.
*Minor edits have been made by the PEP.ph editors.