Thanks to vaccines, these diseases are now a thing of the past

No Filipino child should suffer or perish from preventable diseases when vaccines can safeguard their health.

According to the United Nations Children’s Fund, a child who has received all recommended vaccinations is more likely to grow up healthy. Since their immune systems are still developing, young children and infants are especially vulnerable to several infections that can result in significant harm or death.

Thanks to the effectiveness of vaccines, here are some diseases that have become a distant memory:

  1. Measles. Before the measles vaccine was developed in 1963 and widely used, significant outbreaks occurred every 2-3 years, causing an estimated 2.6 million deaths yearly. Measles can be dangerous and highly contagious, especially in young children.
  2. Mumps. Before the development of vaccines, mumps might lead to complications such as irreversible childhood deafness and, sometimes, encephalitis, which could, in extreme circumstances, be fatal. A person who has received the vaccine will experience mumps less severely than someone who has not.
  3. Rubella. Rubella is contagious and can cause severe congenital disabilities if a pregnant woman contracts it, although the infection is often mild with a fever and rash. Before the start of the rubella immunization program in 1969, there were an estimated 12.5 million rubella cases in the United States (US) between 1964 and 1965, 11,000 pregnancies ended in stillbirth, 2,100 infants died, and 20,000 infants were born with congenital rubella syndrome (CRS).
  4. Polio. Polio was the most feared illness globally throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with frequent outbreaks. Over 2000 people died in a significant epidemic in New York City in 1916, and over 3000 were killed in the biggest outbreak in the US in 1952. The oral polio vaccination offers protection against the poliovirus, which can cause paralysis of the respiratory muscles and, in extreme cases, irreversible paralysis of the limbs.
  5. Chickenpox. Before the development of the vaccine, the United States had a yearly rise of over 4 million cases of chickenpox, over 10,000 hospitalizations, and up to 150 fatalities. Chickenpox can be dangerous and even fatal, particularly in infants, adults, and those with compromised immune systems.

To protect children from these diseases, the Department of Health (DOH) urges individuals to receive the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine and the chickenpox vaccine, which are available free of charge at health centers in the Philippines.

Two doses of the MMR vaccination should be given to children at 9 months and 1 year old, while the chickenpox vaccine should be given at 12 to 15 months and 4 to 6 years old. The polio vaccine is also available at health centers, with one dose each given at 2 months old, 4 months old, 6 to 8 months old, and 4 to 6 years old.

Every last week of April, people worldwide observe World Immunization Week. It aims to raise awareness of the importance of vaccinations and encourage their use to protect individuals of all ages from diseases. By getting inoculated, we can help ensure that our children grow up healthy and strong.

Health centers in the Philippines offer these vaccinations free of charge. For details on immunization schedules, vaccination certificates, and other nutrition and growth monitoring services, visit the health center nearest to you. Let us do our part in keeping our children safe and getting them vaccinated.

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