Media Release 8: Measles (22 Nov 2019)
Since the last update on November 20th 2019 there are now 10 confirmed cases of measles. The latest confirmed case is a 25-year-old pregnant woman from Samabula. The woman presented to the CWM Hospital on 21 November 2019 and is currently admitted under isolation. The Suva Subdivisional Outbreak Response Team has responded to the notification of this new case through the tracing of contacts, with vaccination, and quarantine if needed.
The 2-year-old confirmed case mentioned in the previous update (Media release 7: Measles 20/11/2019) has since been discharged home from the CWM Hospital. The Serua/Namosi Subdivisional Outbreak Response Team has vaccinated 100% of the residents of Waibogi Village in Serua since notification of this case on November 20th 2019.
A 11-year-old student of the Fiji School for the Blind is currently a suspected case and is isolated at the school awaiting test results. Students and staff at the school were vaccinated and quarantined on November 21st before being cleared by the Suva outbreak response team.
The Ministry of Health and Medical Services would like to acknowledge the response of the public in presenting to our health facilities for the measles vaccine.
As mentioned in the past, the measles vaccine is in limited supply and therefore the Ministry of Health and Medical Services would like to inform the public that there is an interim shortage of the measles vaccine. For this reason, the remaining measles vaccine stock will be prioritised to those who are at the greatest risk of catching and spreading measles and it is not available for the general public until additional stocks arrive in the coming days.
Current stocks are being reserved for the following high-risk target groups:
The residents of Serua/Namosi
Children from the ages of 6 months to 3 years
People travelling overseas, however proof of travel must be shown i.e. ticket/travel itinerary, not just a passport
The routine immunisation of children at 12 and 18 months of age will continue as per the national immunisation schedule.
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
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.