HCM CITY (VNS)— Municipal authorities have stepped up awareness and vaccination campaigns, worried about significant increases this year in the incidence of measles, chickenpox, dengue fever, mumps and hand-foot-mouth diseases.
Nguyen Tri Dung, head of the municipal preventive health department, said at a meeting yesterday that a vaccine shortage lasting almost one year has made it difficult to fight chickenpox in the city.
There have been 131 chickenpox cases in the last two months, an increase of 157 per cent over the same period last year.
His department has ordered the vaccines but do not know when it would get them. In the meantime, it is very important that residents maintain good hygienic habits, Dung said.
Children, the elderly and the malnourished are particularly at risk of contracting chicken pox, he warned, adding that pregnant women should avoid crowds.
The city has also seen an increase in measles outbreaks. More than 130 patients have been found with measles in last two months, a 20-fold increase compared with the same period last year.
A 36.7 per cent year-on-year increase in the incidence of dengue fever, a 21.5 per cent increase in hand-foot-mouth and a 39 per cent increase in mumps was also reported at the meeting.
The city has stepped up campaigns in schools and the larger communities to provide information and help residents take preventive measures, Dung said.
To increase immunization coverage, the department will administer measles vaccinations to all infants and toddlers (nine months to three years old) who have not yet had two shots of the vaccine.
They aim to administer 80,000-100,000 shots this week, Dung said.
Nguyen Huu Hung, deputy head of the city's Department of Health, said at the meeting that if there is no reduction in the incidence of measles, vaccinations could take place in schools as well. — VNS