City health office intensifies public info campaign on measles immunization

Jan. 10, 2019

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The Davao City Health Office is now intensifying its efforts to explain the need for measles vaccination as many are still reluctant to avail of immunization due to the Dengvaxia issue.

Curtis C. Lazarraga of the City Health Office said, in a press conference on Thursday, the agency “is having a hard time” in reaching out to communities as many are still doubtful of the safety of undergoing vaccination.

“It is still very hard to convince the public that vaccination is needed especially for children because they are still afraid that it may cause them harm,” said Lazarraga.

Lazarraga added that out of the 90 percent total target population, only 30-40 percent were vaccinated in 2018. He said this is still a conservative estimate.

It was in February 2016 when Health Secretary Janette Garin hosted the nationwide launch of Dengvaxia and April on the same year, the government started the school-based dengue immunization program that gave three doses of vaccines to 830,000 students every six months after the Philippines approved the sale of Sanofi Pasteur’s Dengvaxia vaccine.

Dengvaxia is the world’s first dengue vaccine.

In November 2017, the manufacturer, Sanofi Pasteur, announced that Dengvaxia posed a risk to people who had not previously been exposed to dengue. This followed the withdrawal of approval of the Food and Drug Administration after citing safety concerns.

This set off a panic among parents of vaccinated children that resulted in public outrage.

Lazarraga said the CHO has been intensifying its campaign to the public, going house to house in the community to further explain the need to let their children be immunized.

The World Health Organization reported that cases of measles in the Philippines have increased up to 367 percent in 2018, reaching up to 17,298 cases compared to 2017 with only 3,706 cases.

In October last year around 300 cases have been reported in Bicol region resulting in the death of six individuals.

“It is a challenge how the CHO will reach out to the remaining percentage of the public that needs vaccination. But we will do all efforts” said Lazarraga.

No less than Mayor Sara Duterte is leading the campaign and asking the public to let their children avail of the free vaccination from the CHO yet Lazarraga said there is a lot to do this year to gain public trust. (

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