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Measles and polio cases decline during pandemic, according to the Department of Health.

MANILA, Philippines โ€“ A health official said Tuesday that cases of measles, polio, and other vaccine-preventable diseases have decreased during the pandemic, most likely as a result of nationwide adherence to minimum public health standards.

“Kapag ikukumpara ng previous years sa pandemiya, malaki ang binaba ng mga sakit na ito. If we compare previous years, pre-pandemic, the numbers of these diseases decreased significantly), we only have a cumulative total of 26 measles cases from January to March 5 of this year,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during an online media forum.

Regarding polio, approximately 75 cases were reported during the same time period.

“This is not polio; this is acute flaccid paralysis; kailangan pa natin ikumpirma kung polio talaga ‘yan,” Vergeire explained.

Vergeire explained that as individuals adhere to minimum public health standards since the pandemic began, cases of various infectious diseases have decreased.

“We know that measles is spread through the air, and we also know that other diseases such as polio and nakukuha sa tubig sa ating (can be contracted through our) hygienic practices,” she explained. “And we all know that everyone washes their hands, laging nag-a-alcohol, so nakakabawas po ‘yan (always using alcohol, thereby reducing the possibility of infection)”.

On the other hand, it is possible that cases of measles, polio, and other vaccine-preventable diseases were underreported because healthcare workers were focused on the Covid-19 response and people lost access to non-Covid health services.

Vergeire stated that vaccination coverage for vaccine-preventable diseases is low and that routine immunization rates declined nationwide during the pandemic.

“Meron po tayong parating na catch-up vaccination and supplemental immunization that will begin in April ito ay magtutuloy-tuloy hanggang Hunyo para maabot natin, para tumaas ang ating antas ng pagbabakuna, maprevent po natin ang mga (We have an upcoming catch-up vaccination and supplemental immunization that

Dr. Edsel Salvana, an infectious diseases expert, noted in the same media forum that missed vaccinations can result in outbreaks, emphasizing the importance of catching up on children’s immunization.

Salvana advised parents to take their children to pediatricians for vaccination catch-up.

“That does not begin from scratch; kahit ma-delay, okay lang, basta mahabol (even if it is delayed, it is acceptable; simply catch up),” he explained.

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