Health officials warn of measles outbreak

In the first 10 months, 45 cases of measles – including one death – have been recorded in Hà Nội, against the northern region’s 99 cases and the country’s total figure of 229 cases.

Research and development of vaccines at the Việt Nam’s Centre for Research and Production of Vaccines and Biopharmaceutical (POLYVAC) under the Ministry of Health. Each year, the centre produced some 7.5 million doses of measles vaccines (MVVAC), meeting 100 per cent of the country’s immunisation demands, at a price 60 per cent lower compared to imported doses. - VNA/VNS Photo Danh Lam

Even though this amount remains within acceptable range, in the past two months, infections rose by four to five a week throughout the city and rural districts.

Health-care authorities warn of a possible outbreak if preventive efforts are neglected, said director of the Hà Nội Preventive Medicine Centre, Nguyễn Nhật Cảm.

Cảm also said that the northern region had started to experience the first cold spells of winter, an ideal condition for measles. He said that of those infected, only 30 per cent had been vaccinated.

To potential outbreak of measles in the winter-spring season, the municipal health department has notified all public and private agencies and companies in the health sector to boost measles check-up and treatment efforts.

Accordingly, agencies need to retrain their staff with the latest guidelines for diagnosis and treatment to offer help to those in need. They have also been told to stock up on measles medicine, medical equipment, and to prepare rooms and quarantine areas.

Starting this month, the Hà Nội Preventive Medicine Centre will co-ordinate with all of the city’s districts to immunise all children under five years old who have not been given the shots.

The health department will conduct environmental sanitation and community-based treatment in areas where measles cases are discovered.

Measles is caused by a virus and there is currently no effective medicine for it, so death is always a possibility. While the disease itself is not serious, but its complications are – including pneumonia, encephalitis, malnutrition and diarrhoea.

“When a child starts showing symptoms of measles, self-treatment is absolutely ill-advised, the family must take the child to professional health centre for diagnosis and treatment,” said Nguyễn Văn Lâm, director of the National Paediatrics Hospital’s Infection Ward.

Even though the rate of immunised children in the capital city is high, about 95-97 per cent, each year, 150,000 children need to be vaccinated. Even if the rate of unvaccinated children stays at four per cent, that creates 6-7,000 unvaccinated children a year. According to latest report, in the last five years, the number of children that have not been vaccinated against measles in the city has reached 32,634.

The last outbreak of measles in the city occurred in 2014 with 1,700 cases. It claimed the lives of 14 children. Due to a boost in immunisation, the number of measles cases in the city fell to 39 in 2015 and three last year.

According to the health ministry, in Việt Nam, about three per cent of children have not been immunised against measles.

Source VNA