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Lawmaker blames vaccine hesitancy among Filipinos for pertussis outbreak

PHILSTAR

VACCINE hesitancy among Filipinos is likely to have caused the ongoing outbreak of Pertussis or whooping cough in parts of Luzon and Visayas, a lawmaker and former health secretary said on Monday.

Speaking to members of the media, Iloilo Rep. Janette L. Garin said that vaccine hesitancy among Filipinos which stemmed from the Dengvaxia controversy in 2017 had caused parents to avoid subjecting their children to state-sponsored vaccines.

“Why in the whole world is it that only in the Philippines was there a pertussis outbreak!” Ms. Garin, who served as Department of Health (DoH) secretary during the presidency of the late Benigno S. Aquino, III, told the media in Filipino.

“The pertussis outbreak is due to the number of people refusing to be vaccinated,” she added.

Quezon City in Metro Manila and Cavite province, south of the capital, as well as Iloilo City in Western Visayas have already declared an outbreak of pertussis as early as last month.

The sharp rise in pertussis cases have also resulted in a number of reported deaths. Last March 16, the DoH reported 40 children dying of the respiratory infection.

The two-dose vaccine against pertussis is commonly administered at government hospitals and health centers for free to children aged as young as 2-6 months and 15-18 months.

Those who missed their vaccinations at these periods can have a one-dose vaccine against whooping cough, called T-dap, at the age of 7 to 10 years old.

Pertussis or whooping cough is a highly contagious bacterial respiratory infection that causes influenza-like symptoms such as mild fever and coughs lasting seven to 10 weeks after exposure. — Kenneth Christiane L. Basilio

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