Philippine College of Physicians position statement on pertussis outbreak in PH

April 1, 2024 People's Tonight 186 views

THE Philippine College of Physicians (PCP) is deeply concerned with the recent increase in pertussis cases, commonly known as whooping cough, in the Philippines. In the first 10 weeks of this year, the Department of Health (DOH) has reported over 500 cases with 40 fatalities, and the declaration of outbreaks in Quezon City, Pasig City, Iloilo City, and Cavite1,2.

Pertussis is an acute respiratory infection caused by the bacteria Bordetella pertussis. The infection poses a significant threat particularly among infants and young children who are at risk of severe symptoms and life-threatening complications and outcome . While teens and adults may experience milder symptoms, there is a risk of severe illness, especially for those with pre-existing health conditions and the unvaccinated elderly population3.

The PCP fully supports the DOH’s call in promoting for enhanced vaccination campaigns nationwide to increase vaccination coverage and protection of all infants and children to vaccine preventable diseases. We urge all stakeholders, healthcare providers, local government units, and community leaders to collaborate in preventing the spread of pertussis and other vaccine preventable infections including measles, diphtheria, influenza and pneumonia .

The PCP emphasizes the critical role of vaccination as the most effective method for preventing outbreak. PCP highly recommends getting a single Tdap vaccine for: 3.1 Infants and Children

Three (3)-dose primary immunization series with DTaP recommended at ages 1 ½ , 2 ½ , and 3 ½ months , plus booster of 1 dose at 12-18 months and another booster dose between 4 to 6 years old4. 3.2 Adolescents

Adolescents who have completed the recommended childhood DTaP series should receive a single DTaP booster, recommended between 9 to 18-years-old4; 3.3 Adults

Adults aged 19 to 64 years should receive a single Tdap booster in lieu of 1 Td booster Adults aged 65 and older who have not previously received a Tdap booster should receive 1 booster dose, particularly if contact with infants is anticipated.

The Tdap vaccine is strongly suggested for pregnant women of all ages, ideally in the third trimester (between 27 and 36 weeks) of each pregnancy. For those who are particularly susceptible or have not been vaccinated previously, the Tdap vaccine may also be administered during the first trimester5.

Studies have consistently shown that pertussis vaccine (Tdap) significantly decrease the incidence of pertussis by over 92% and 97% in reducing mortality rates6. In fully vaccinated individuals the symptoms tend to be less severe, with a reduced likelihood of experiencing prolonged coughing spells, apnea, and cyanosis. Extensive safety evaluations have confirmed that Tdap vaccines are safe for use in children and adults, pregnant women and seniors over the age of 65, with no unexpected safety concerns reported7.

The PCP urges parents and caregivers to be vigilant for symptoms of pertussis—cough, colds, fever—and to seek prompt medical attention.

Early diagnosis and treatment are key to improving patient outcomes and reducing transmission.

The PCP is committed to supporting the Philippine government, the DOH and the healthcare community in addressing this outbreak. We encourage everyone to participate in vaccination campaigns and adhere to public health guidelines .

We ARE one in protecting our communities, our children and the vulnerable populations from the potentially devastating effects of these vaccine preventable infections.