40 child deaths due to pertussis logged so far this year- Philippine health department

The Department of Health said the total number of cases for the same time period in 2023 was only 26, making this year’s tally to date more than 20 times from that of last year.

Zeus Legaspi

Zeus Legaspi

Philippine Daily Inquirer


The Department of Health is calling on local governments to conduct “catch-up vaccination” drives especially for children to help prevent the spread of pertussis, a subject of a DOH information drive is shown here in San Juan City. PHOTO: PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER

March 28, 2024

MANILA – Forty children have died of whooping cough — a respiratory infection also called pertussis — as of March 16 this year, Assistant Health Secretary Albert Domingo reported on Wednesday.

In a statement, the Department of Health said that it had observed an increase in new pertussis cases nationwide, with 28 cases reported from March 10 to 16.

This brings the total number of cases to 568 from January 1 to March 16.

“The total number of cases for the same time period in 2023 was only 26, making this year’s tally to date more than 20 times from that of last year,” the DOH said.

Of the total recorded pertussis cases, 356 — or 62.7 percent — were infants below six months old, the DOH added.

Among these infants, 270 — or 75.8 percent — were either unvaccinated or had an unknown vaccination history, while 384 or 67.6 percent of the total number of cases regardless of age were under similar conditions.

The number of new pertussis cases increased from 122 in the first two weeks of February to 149  in the next two weeks of the same month.

According to the DOH, new cases logged in the weeks starting March 3 and March 10 have gone down to only 73, but it remained cautious in interpreting the trend as the “number of cases may still change as there may be late consultations and reports.”

“Regions with the most number of local government units showing case increases thus far are  Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon), Metro Manila, Western Visayas, Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan) and Central Visayas. Metro Manila accounted for 27 percent (58 cases) of the total confirmed cases among all regions,” DOH statement added.

Vaccination vs pertussis

Following the release of its latest data on pertussis, the DOH urged parents anew to have children vaccinated against the respiratory infection.

“Vaccination is safe and effective against Pertussis. As of March 25, there are 64,400 doses of ‘pentavalent’ vaccines in the country. The DOH is expecting 3 million more pentavalent doses arriving at the soonest possible time,” the DOH said in the same statement.

The health department said that infants as young as six weeks old may already be given the vaccine for free at government health centers while children from one to six years old may already be given a booster dose.

Older children and adults, on the other hand, are advised to first consult a doctor or health center for advice on the appropriate vaccine.

“Pregnant women may ask about the ‘Tdap’ vaccine, which allows for protection of their soon-to-be-born babies against pertussis,” DOH added.

Three local government units have so far declared a pertussis outbreak — Quezon City and Pasig City in Metro Manila, and Iloilo City in the Visayas.

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