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Pertussis outbreak blamed on low jab rate

HOUSE Deputy Majority Leader Janette Garin has blamed the pertussis outbreak on vaccine hesitancy.

In a press conference on Monday, Garin, a former Health secretary, said the government's vaccine coverage rate for polio, measles, mumps, rubella has fallen to 32 percent from 98 percent.

The Department of Health (DoH) has assured the public that pertussis is treatable, and vaccination is a «safe and effective» way to prevent it.

«Pentavalent vaccines include protection against 'DPT' (diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus), in addition to Hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenzae type B. Infants as young as 6 weeks may already be given this vaccine for free at government health centers. Children from 1 to 6 years of age may get a booster dose,» the department said.

It urged older children and adults «to consult a doctor or health center for advice on the appropriate vaccine.»

The DoH said pertussis transmission «may be prevented by good respiratory hygiene: cover coughs and sneezing — do so into disposable tissues/wipes, or the elbow or upper arm (not hands). Wash hands often, or use alcohol if soap and water are not readily available.»

Some areas in the country have declared a pertussis outbreak.


Pertussis starts as a mild cough and cold that lasts about two weeks, followed by fits of coughing which lasts up to six weeks. There can also be vomiting immediately after coughing, and low-grade fever. Infants may not present with cough; instead, they may turn cyanotic or bluish when coughing, the DoH said.

«Compared to cough found in other diseases, the distinct 'whoop' or high[-]pitched sound of pertussis is unique. Bronchial asthma may also have a similar sound, but only during asthma attacks and often without fever or the other symptoms,» it said.