|HCM City is providing free vaccinations for infants against measles and rubella as part of a Ministry of Health campaign to prevent a repeat of the 2014 measles outbreak. —VNA/VNS Dương Ngọc|
HCM CITY — Health centres in HCM City are working to verify how many children aged one to five have not been immunised against measles for a national campaign to provide free two-in-one vaccines against measles and rubella starting this month.
The Ministry of Health is undertaking the campaign to increase immunisation coverage to prevent a repeat of the 2014 measles outbreak.
HCM City’s Preventive Health Centre reported that 400 people are suspected to have contracted measles so far this year.
The city has seen a rise in measles cases since the end of September, and the centre warned it would continue if the number of children without measles shots was not reduced.
The vaccination campaign will end next January, Dr Nguyễn Trí Dũng, the centre’s head, told a meeting with health centres in all 24 districts on Saturday.
The Thủ Đức District Health Centre worked with the local education division to obtain a list of children aged between one and five at kindergartens and nurseries.
It then asked managers and teachers of kindergartens and nurseries which children are yet to get two doses of the measles vaccine.
This process revealed that 4,803 children need to get vaccinated. Centre officials wrote to these children’s families to say they should take them to the nearest health centre for vaccination.
But Dũng said this is not an effective method since many families fail to carry out the task.
The centre should instead collaborate with kindergartens and nurseries to provide vaccines there, he suggested.
The Tân Phú District Health Centre is collaborating with the population division to visit each family to draw up a list of unvaccinated children and tell their families about the campaign.
Dr Nguyễn Hữu Hưng, deputy head of the city Department of Health, said it was important to identify which children in the community had not been immunised.
In September and October, the city carried out a free programme to vaccinate children born in 2016 and 2017, but Hưng said it did not reach enough children.
The Preventive Health Centre said recently that several hospitals and other vaccine centres do not give children measles shots at nine months, waiting instead until they are one year old to give them a combined measles-rubella shot despite the Ministry of Health’s recommendation that children should be immunised against measles at nine months.
The Department of Health has since instructed all hospitals and immunisation centres to comply with the ministry’s instructions. — VNS