Anti-vaccination is no stranger to the Philippines. By 2017, anti-vaccination had already become mainstream, primarily due to the highly politicized and media-sensationalized fearmongering of a dengue vaccine. As a result, the Philippines faced its worst dengue outbreak in history with tens of thousands of cases all over the country.
As early as February of 2019, measles (among others) have become an epidemic thanks in part to social media. Articles promoting anti-vaccination regularly circulate in Filipino Facebook groups. Media reports measles cases have increased by 547% or 5,000 confirmed cases in 2018. This belies government efforts to eliminate the disease in 2010.
Diseases such as polio and diphtheria are also making comebacks.
This ‘vaccine hesitancy’ aggravates the already dreary situation of many Filipino communities in far-flung areas which do not have access to basic healthcare. Healthcare workers are finding it increasingly difficult to administer vaccinations due to widespread misinformation on social media, going so far as to be labeled as “child killers”.
As medical misinformation continues to flourish all over the world, some countries are working on passing legislation to curb the situation. There is yet to be a similar action in the Philippines at a national level although governmental agencies and NGOs have taken initiatives to launch information drives and advocacy campaigns.
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