MANILA - More diseases are expected to spread due to the country's plummeting immunization rate, an infectious disease doctor warned Thursday.
This after the Philippines last week announced the resurgence of polio in the country after nearly 2 decades. Government earlier declared a national dengue epidemic and a measles outbreak.
"We’re already getting reports of chickenpox, mumps, pertussis. Measles is just the most transmissible, a big indicator that vaccine rates are down," Dr. Edsel Maurice Salvaña told ANC's Early Edition.
"And we know it’s not just polio, these are all combination vaccines. We already are below the threshold for protection for a lot of diseases."
Immunization coverage in the country dropped to 40 percent last year, from an average 70 percent in recent years, partly due to mistrust stoked by a dengue vaccine scandal, authorities earlier said.
Government must intensify its education campaign to combat the anti-vaccination movement, said Silvana, who serves as director of the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at the University of the Philippines-Manila’s National Institute of Health.
"The easiest way to understand how it works is to understand how many deaths it prevents. 2.5 million deaths per year prevented is a huge number," he said.
"Compared to the alternative, the benefit far outweighs the risk."
The first polio case recorded in the country since 2000 was a vaccine-derived polio virus type 2, government earlier said. Silvana said the virus was mutated from the vaccine, which is "an indicator that vaccine rates in the Philippines are really going down precipitously."
"The oral polio vaccine is a live vaccine that contains all 3 types but it’s a weakened form. This has been a very successful vaccine to the point we’ve eliminated wild type," he said.
"The drawback is if you have low vaccination rates in the community then the weakened type can continue circulating in the community. If everybody in the community got the vaccine, that wouldn’t happen."
The country must achieve a 95 percent vaccination rate to prevent the transmission of the disease, Silvana said.
"Polio is very very contagious so if you have lowered immunity then it can spread very fast," he said.
"We need about 95 percent immunity just to maintain what we call a herd immunity."
Silvana, meantime, said government has contained the measles outbreak while dengue cases have "started to plateau" although it is expected to persist until November as the country is hyperendemic to dengue.