UNICEF-WHO Philippines: Measles Outbreak, Situation Report 8, 2 April 2019

Originally published



Current measles outbreak started late 2017 in Mindanao. In 2018, 20,827 cases were reported with 199 deaths. Outbreak and supplementary immunization activities in 2018 were ineffective in addressing the outbreak as the immunization activity was met with increased vaccine hesitancy due to the Dengue vaccine controversy. Weak routine immunization leading to a decrease in overall immunization coverage over the last decade resulted in low resistance or presence of herd immunity among younger children.

The Philippines Department of Health (DoH) declared measles outbreaks in 5 Regions (Region NCR, III, IVA, VI, VII) on 7 February 2019, whereas cases are being reported from all 17 Regions. DoH issued guidelines for nation-wide measles vaccination accompanied by Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) and Vitamin A distribution until end March 2019, prioritizing unvaccinated children between 6 and 59 months; schoolchildren from kindergarten to grade 6; and adults who voluntarily wish to be vaccinated against measles.

Current Situation

Between 1 January and 26 March 2019, 25,676 measles cases including 355 deaths were officially reported through the routine surveillance system from the DOH: a 378% increase with the same time period in 2018 (see Table 1).

With a median age of 3 years old, 54% of measles cases are under 5 years of age. 53% of measles cases are male.

With a median age of 1 year old, 84% of all deaths are children under the age of 5, 60% of measles deaths are male. Most deaths are reported from Region III, IV-A, VIII and NCR.

As of 26 March 2019, 59% of cases have no documented vaccination status. DoH data shows that 3% of cases had been previously vaccinated with 2 doses of measles vaccine. The vaccination status of the remainder of cases is unknown.