Health sector has plans to eradicate measles by 2012

Viet Nam plans to eliminate measles by 2012 with two injections for children between the ages of one and six, with supplemental vaccinations for high risk groups and areas.

"The effect of the first vaccination is around 85 per cent, and regular injections boost this rate to 90 per cent," said Director of the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology (NIHE) Nguyen Tran Hien, at a workshop o­n measles prevention yesterday.

NIHE estimated that in 2009 Viet Nam had more than 4,300 cases of the measles, of which 55 per cent of victims were between the ages of 15 and 29. About 63.1 per cent of women of child-bearing age (18 to 44) were infected with both measles and rubella.

"Most patients in the 18-26 age group have had o­nly o­ne shot of the measles vaccine," explained Hien.

"Measles outbreaks often happen o­n a small scale, but tend to spread to many provinces, especially in bigger cities with larger populations," added Hien.

Representative of the World Health Organisations in Viet Nam Jean Marc Olive also suggested that along with children, Viet Nam’s health sector should re-vaccinate adult groups such as migrant workers, students, healthcare staff and military recruits.

"What is happening now in Viet Nam regarding measles has already been experienced by many other countries with mature immunisation programmes," said Olive.

In 2002, Viet Nam started to vaccinate with the second injection against measles for 6-year-old children, along with the first injection for 9-12-month-old children in an effort to eliminate the disease by 2012.

Last year, the Expanded Immunisation Programme (EPI) saw a measles vaccination rate of 89.4 per cent in 9-12-month-olds, and 87 per cent in 6-year-old children.

In an effort to eliminate measles by 2012, the health sector will strengthen its regular immunisation programme in order to give at least 95 per cent of children two vaccinations. Some supplemental vaccination campaigns will be carried out for students, healthcare staff and military recruits.

EPI will also focus o­n strengthening human resources, monitoring systems and communication prog-rammes o­n measles prevention, as well as ensuring a reserve of measles vaccines for emergencies.