|A nurse gives a measles vaccine to an infant in Hà Nội. — VNA/VNS Photo Dương Ngọc|
HÀ NỘI — The Ministry of Health plans to start giving measles vaccine to children in their sixth month instead of the ninth, Deputy Health Minister Nguyễn Thanh Long has said.
The information was revealed at a conference on tackling dengue fever and summer diseases this year, held in Đà Nẵng City earlier this week.
Health officials are worried about measles epidemics returning to Việt Nam this year as the disease often occurs in four-year cycles, and the previous major one was in 2013-2014, Sức khoẻ & Đời sống (Health & Life) reported.
About 90 measles cases have been reported in the northern region from the beginning of this year, an increase of 30 per cent from the same period last year, said Dr Trần Như Dương, deputy director of the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology.
Officials fear that many of these patients are children that have not reached the age to receive measles vaccines from the State, said Deputy Health Minister Nguyễn Thanh Long.
“We wonder why a lot of children under six months old have got measles, and a number of children under two months old have whooping coughs,” he said.
“This points to the fact that their immune systems are very weak, which could be because the adults, especially the mothers, were not immunised when they fell pregnant,” he said.
Children in Việt Nam receive their first dose of measles vaccine at nine months old, but the percentage of younger children having measles has increased drastically from 3 per cent in previous years to 20 per cent in 2016-17.
The Deputy Health Minister has requested health agencies to review all measles prevention measures and prepare to give measles vaccines to children earlier.
“We will probably get the children vaccinated during their sixth month instead of ninth,” he said.
Dengue fever is another worrisome summer disease, with 11,000 cases recorded in the country from the beginning of the year, said Trần Đắc Phu, director of Preventive Medicine Administration under the Ministry of Health.
Although this is 37 per cent less than the same period of last year, citizens have to remain careful since the summer is the ripe time for dengue outbreaks, he said.
Other diseases such as hand-foot-mouth, flu, Japanese encephalitis, chicken pox, diarrhea and dysentery can all be contagious if not treated properly, he added.
“Anyone can get infected, but children are the most vulnerable,” he said. “They need to be protected both at home and in school, which requires close collaboration between parents and teachers.” — VNS