|In January, 28 children in 13 provinces and cities contracted measles, according to a report from the Ministry of Health's Preventive Health Department. — File Photo
HCM CITY (VNS) — Minister of Health Nguyen Thi Kim Tien urged officials yesterday to set up temporary sites to offer measles vaccines to children in mountainous and rural areas and to areas with a low rate of vaccination.
Speaking at a workshop on food safety and disease prevention, Tien said measles outbreaks could occur again in the country if preventive measures were ignored.
In January, 28 children in 13 provinces and cities contracted measles, according to a report from the Ministry of Health's Preventive Health Department.
The affected provinces included Bac Ninh, Phu Tho, Hai Duong, Hung Yen, and Ha Nam. HCM City and Ha Noi also saw new cases.
Tien said that last year 5,607 patients in the country tested positive for measles. The outbreak occurred because many children had not been vaccinated.
Measles is a highly contagious virus that lives in the nose and throat mucus of an infected person. It can be spread through coughing and squeezing, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In areas with a low rate of vaccination and in mountainous and rural areas, health officials plan to increase the number of days vaccines will be offered.
More mobile sites will open in areas where parents can bring their children to get the vaccines.
Tien told health officials in provinces and cities to carry out more campaigns on measles vaccines for children aged nine months to one year.
Since last October, a campaign on the combined vaccine against measles and Rubella for children aged one to 14 has been carried out throughout the country.
As of this month, 18.3 million children have received the vaccine, according to Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long.
Information dissemination about the vaccine should also be expanded to parents, Long added.
"Parents need to recognise that vaccinations for children show their responsibility and love," Tien said, adding that "parents should trust the quality of measles vaccines provided in the National Expanded Programme on Immunization".
Apart from measles, Tien also instructed health officials in the country to focus on prevention of respiratory diseases, seasonal influenza and avian flu H5N1 during the Tet holiday.
Luong Ngoc Khue, head of the Treatment and Examination Department, told health facilities to ensure the storage of medicine and other medical materials for emergency aid and treatment in order to reduce fatalities during Tet.
More health staff will also be available during the holiday for emergency aid in case of serious traffic accidents, food poisoning, fires and natural disasters, Khue said.
Nguyen Thanh Phong, head of Administration for Food Safety and Hygiene, said that six teams of inspectors would visit 12 provinces and cities to check whether food items at shops and markets follow safety and hygiene rules.
Inspection results will be published on the administration's website and in media outlets. — VNS