Media Release 14: Measles (11 Dec 2019)

News and Press Release
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Sunil Chandra

Case update

Since the last update on December 6th 2019 there are now 19 confirmed cases of measles. The latest confirmed is a 9 month old from Davuilevu in Rewa who stayed at Saumakia Settlement in Naitasiri, and the Korovou Prison Compound in Suva. This child is currently admitted in a stable condition under isolation in the CWM Hospital. The outbreak response teams are conducting investigations in the respective locations listed, with quarantine and vaccination of contacts and at risk communities as appropriate.

The 19 cases to date are from the following areas in the Central Division:

  • 12 cases from the Serua/Namosi Subdivision (Wailali, Wainadoi, Navunikabi, and Makosoi Deuba)

  • 4 cases from Suva Subdivision (Samabula, Vatuwaqa, Tacirua, Wailekutu).

  • 3 cases from Rewa Subdivision (Koronivia, Nasilai Village Nakelo, Davuilevu).

Measles is a highly contagious disease; therefore, non-essential travel to Saumakia Settlement in Naitasiri, Serua/Namosi, and Nasilai Village in Nakelo is strongly discouraged.

Mass Immunisation Campaign Update

The second phase of this immunisation campaign began on Wednesday 4th December.

Across Fiji it is targeting people in the groups listed below:

1) Any child in Fiji who has not received 2 doses of a measles vaccine as per the national immunisation schedule

2) Any child in Fiji aged 12 and 18 months who is due their routine measles vaccine as per the national immunisation schedule

3) Any person in Fiji travelling overseas, however evidence of travel must be provided i.e. travel itinerary or ticket

4) All health care workers in Fiji

5) All airport and hotel staff

In Central Division only, the campaign will also target:

1) All children aged 6 months to 5 years

2) All people born between 1980 and 2000 (19 to 39 year olds, who should have ID available if asked).

3) All residents of Serua/Namosi aged 6 months and older.

Pregnant women, those with compromised immune systems, and those with a known allergy to the vaccine should not be vaccinated.

People who were vaccinated in phase one of the campaign will not be vaccinated again in phase two.

In Central Division over 85,000 people in the target groups have been vaccinated since the second phase of the measles mass immunisation campaign began on December 4th. This is in addition to the approximately 100,000 people who were vaccinated nationwide since the outbreak was declared on November 7th. For Serua/Namosi, 97% of the targeted population has been vaccinated. From Thursday December 12th there will be some changes to the Central Division vaccination stations, reflecting the lower numbers of people seeking vaccination. Details will be provided in the daily measles advisory.

An additional 400,000 doses of vaccine will be distributed to the remaining health divisions this week. As with the campaign in Central Division, the national campaign will target people most at risk of catching and spreading the disease. The Ministry of Health and Medical Services will announce details, including start dates of the roll out of the national campaign shortly through its daily measles advisories.

The Ministry of Health and Medical Services wishes to acknowledge the assistance provided by UNICEF and the Australian and New Zealand Governments in securing vaccines for Fiji. And we also thank the World Health Organisation for their continuous technical support.

Measles is very contagious. To help stop the spread of the disease, the Ministry of Health and Medical Services also advises Fijians to take the following precautions:

  • **Avoid non-essential travel to ****Saumakia Settlement in Naitasiri, Serua/Namosi, and Nasilai Village in Nakelo**. If you need to travel to these areas, please get vaccinated against measles at least two weeks before travel. Please avoid taking those that cannot get vaccinated (e.g. babies under the age of 6 months and pregnant women) to the outbreak areas.

  • Avoid holding or attending large gatherings of people, especially in Central Division, but also those that bring participants from across the country or overseas (such as youth camps, religious gatherings, graduation ceremonies, sporting events, etc.). Measles can spread very easily among large groups of people if they are not immune, who can then take the disease back into their communities.

  • If you are holding an event with international visitors, or participants from an outbreak area, please strongly encourage them to get vaccinated against measles at least two weeks before travel. This especially applies to visitors traveling from other countries with measles outbreaks i.e. New Zealand, Samoa and Tonga.


Measles information


Measles is a highly infectious airborne viral disease that spreads easily through the air through breathing, coughing, and sneezing. You are at risk of getting measles if you breathe the same air as someone with the disease and you are not immune. You are not immune if you have not been vaccinated, or you have never had the disease.


The symptoms of measles are:

Fever and a rash with any of the following: runny nose, sneezing, cough, red/watery eyes, white spots inside the mouth. The rash starts after the other symptoms and spreads all over the body.


There is no specific antiviral treatment for measles, as it is your body’s immune system that fights off the disease. Most people recover from a measles infection in 8-10 days with rest, and ensuring that they are eating and drinking to avoid dehydration.


Some people infected with measles develop severe complications such as pneumonia (infection of the lungs) or encephalitis (brain swelling). These people require hospitalization. Children under the age of five, babies younger than one year old, pregnant women, adults over the age of twenty, and those with compromised immune systems are most at risk of complications.


A safe and effective vaccine exists for measles. The Ministry of Health and Medical Services provides measles vaccine free to children. Since 2003, all children in Fiji are offered two (2) doses of the combination measles-rubella vaccine – starting from twelve months of age. Fiji’s immunization coverage for children is good, and the Ministry also conducted a supplemental campaign in 2017 for all one to ten year olds. Please ensure your children have received at least two doses of the measles vaccine according to the Fiji immunization schedule. This information should be in your child’s ‘Fiji Child Health Record’ (which is a booklet/card every child born in Fiji is provided) for children under the age of 5, and the school health card for school aged children.

Measles in Fiji

Because we have an effective immunization program, measles is rare in Fiji. However, outbreaks around the world, including in neighbouring countries, still puts Fiji at risk of having cases of measles.