A health worker is shown in this undated DOH MIMAROPA photo while vaccinating a student against measles.

The Department of Health (DOH) in MIMAROPA said Wednesday that the measles outbreak has claimed its second victim in Coron municipality, northern Palawan.

The latest to die because of the highly contagious infectious disease was a little girl in the 1-5 age group from Barangay Bintuan, Coron. She died on February 10, said the DOH MIMAROPA information office.

The first death in the municipality was recorded on January 22. It was a boy from Barangay 6, Coron, who also belongs to the same age group.

Based on the DOH MIMAROPA distribution of reported measles deaths by province and municipality as of January 1-February 18, 2019, four deaths have also been recorded in Oriental Mindoro — one in the town of Bongabong, two in Gloria, and one in Socorro.

From 38 measles cases as of February 18, the figure has now gone up to 53 active.

Romalyn Racho, health education and promotions officer of the DOH MIMAROPA, explained that the increase can be both “positive and negative.”

Negative because awareness has not yet reached other far-flung areas and positive because of active case finding and good surveillance and reporting.

“Though nakakalungkot makita ang pagtaas, puwedeng positive kasi po nakikita natin mayroon na tayong active case finding… maganda na ang surveillance at reporting ng cases. Kaya kailangan natin lahat magtulungan sa pagbibigay ng tamang impormasyon upang maintindihan ng mga tao ang kahalagahan ng pagpapabakuna laban sa tigdas,” Racho said.

She said the DOH’s strategy is now getting the regional office in MIMAROPA to go down to schools and the barangays in municipalities to conduct information and dissemination campaigns about free vaccination against measles.

Racho said this is because many families are still unaware that there is free immunization going on.

She said their next information drive deployment will be in Coron where cases are high compared to other municipalities in Palawan.

“That is why po as one of our strategies kami na at the regional level ang makikita niyo na bumababa at the baranggay level. Alam niyo po maganda ang feedback ng community…. iba kapag mula sa DOH ang nagpapaliwanag at sumasagot o tumutugon sa mga concern nila. Mas madali silang nae-encourage at nawawala ang fear nila kasi naa-address o nasasagot ang mga concern,” she said.

Aside from the info campaign, she said they are also actively encouraging the help of municipal government officials in establishing vaccination centers in strategic locations such as groceries, plazas, and even churches.

She said local government officials can also help through their municipal health offices to extend the operation of the centers until the weekend.

“We are advocating and lobbying for the mayors to help since last week. Puwedeng supplemental immunization activities at i-strengthen pa ang information dissemination through local radio and tv plugs or interviews. Kung puwede maglagay ng vaccination centers sa mga strategic places sa kanilang mga lugar like markets, malls, grocery, plaza, at church,” she said.