Media Release 5: Measles (16 Nov 2019)
The Ministry of Health and Medical Services is pleased to see the positive support from the members of the public in their proactive efforts to contain the measles outbreak in Serua/Namosi by presenting for immunisation and reporting symptoms. The measles outbreak is still confined to the Serua/Namosi Subdivision, and specifically the Wailali Settlement in Wainadoi.
As the response by the public has been so positive the Ministry of Health and Medical Services would like to highlight the measles vaccine is currently limited to 4 groups who are at most at risk of contracting measles, and these are;
Any child in Fiji who has not received 2 doses of measles vaccine. If you’re unsure visit your nearest health centre with your child’s health record for it to be checked by a health care worker. They will be immunised on the spot if needed.
Anyone who resides in Serua/Namosi and is over 6 months of age is urgently advised to receive a dose of the measles vaccine regardless of prior vaccination status if they have not done so already.
Anyone who intends on travelling into Serua/Namosi is urged to get vaccinated at least 2 weeks before travel. The vaccine is available from any health centre in Fiji.
Anyone who intends to travel overseas and is over 6 months of age is advised to get a measles vaccine prior to travel from their nearest health centre.
The only exceptions to those in the above groups are pregnant women, those with compromised immune systems, and those with a known allergy to the vaccine. These people should not be vaccinated.
The Ministry of Health and Medical Services main priority is to protect those at the highest risk first. The Ministry would like to emphasise that current vaccination stocks are not unlimited and should be used for our most vulnerable groups who are most likely to catch and spread the disease. Since the last update there have been zero confirmed new cases of measles from Serua/Namosi or anywhere else in Fiji. There are currently 4 confirmed cases – all from the Wailali Settlement in Wainadoi.
The Measles Taskforce is constantly reviewing the situation and will make recommendations to vaccinate other groups as necessary. The taskforce consists of experts from across Ministry of Health and Medical Services and international experts – including the World Health Organisation.
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 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 (5), babies younger than one (1) year old, pregnant women, adults over the age of twenty (20), 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 (12) months of age. Fiji’s immunization coverage for children is good, and the Ministry also conducted a supplemental campaign in 2017 for all one (1) to ten (10) year olds. Please ensure your children have received at least two (2) 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.
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