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More jabs vs pertussis, measles arriving soon — DOH

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines is receiving three million doses of a vaccine that protects people from pertussis soon as cases of whooping cough increase, the Department of Health (DOH) said.

The health department said in a statement Monday that it is already distributing 64,400 pentavalent vaccines to curb the spread of pertussis, a highly contagious respiratory infection.

Aside from pertussis, the five-in-one combination jab also protects against diphtheria, tetanus, hepatitis B, haemophilus influenzae type b.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), pertussis spreads easily through droplets produced by coughing or sneezing. Pertussis is especially dangerous in infants, causing flu-like symptoms and a characteristic hacking cough.

Latest figures from the DOH showed that 453 cases of pertussis were reported in the first 10 weeks of 2024. The local governments of Quezon City and Iloilo City have declared an outbreak of pertussis.

“The public may carry on with daily activities. Face mask use continues to be voluntary but highly encouraged,” the DOH said. 

“Cover coughs (cough into your elbow), and choose well-ventilated areas. The best solution is vaccination,” it added. 

The DOH also ordered at least five million additional measles-rubella vaccine doses to add to the 2.6 million doses distributed by the agency. 

Some 569 measles and rubella cases were recorded as of February 24. All regions, except Bicol and Central Visayas, reported an increase in cases in the past month. 

According to the DOH, “those under five years of age and who are unvaccinated are the most affected.”

Measles, locally known as “tigdas,” is a highly contagious disease that primarily affects children. Symptoms of measles include high fever, cough, runny rose and a body rash.

Rubella, also known as German measles, is also a contagious disease caused by a different virus than measles. It typically causes a mild illness with symptoms like low fever, sore throat and a rash.

Both spread easily when an infected person coughs or sneezes. 

The DOH aims to vaccinate at least 90% of the high-risk population, particularly children aged six months to 10 years, to control measles