Vila Times

Protect our community from measles

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In response to the increased risk of measles in the Pacific, the Vanuatu Ministry of Health and partners, World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), are strongly encouraging all parents and carers to make sure their children are vaccinated and people travel responsibly by ensuring they are immunized before departing.
Currently there are no measles cases in Vanuatu, however there measles outbreaks occurring in our neighbouring countries of Samoa, Tonga and New Zealand. These outbreaks all create all create an increased risk of the virus being introduced into Vanuatu.
Measles is a highly infectious disease caused by a virus. It spreads easily from person to person through the air. However, the good news is that it is easily preventable with a vaccine. Vaccination provides the safest and best protection against measles. It not only protects you, but also your family and community, by stopping the spread of the disease.
All members of the public play an important role in helping to ensure that measles is not brought to Vanuatu. The Ministry of Health highly recommends that if members of the public are travelling abroad they check their immunization status and potentially get a dose of measles vaccine. Travelers should ensure that they get their measles booster at least 15 days before departing.
Since September 2019, the Ministry of Health has intensified its efforts to respond to the threat of measles, with support from WHO and UNICEF. This includes activating its communicable disease taskforce, increasing efforts to help find and respond to potential cases, increase public awareness and vaccinate certain individuals who are at a high risk of getting measles, including seasonal workers who travel to New Zealand, which is currently experiencing a measles outbreak.
Stay alert of measles signs and symptoms!
The Ministry of Health also wishes to emphasize the importance of the community being alert for measles signs and symptoms. Initial measles symptoms generally appear 10-12 days after being infected (timeframes range from 7-18 days) and include high fever, runny nose and sneezing, cough, red, water eyes (conjunctivitis) and white spots inside the mouth. Three to five days after these initial symptoms a red, blotchy, non-blistering rash will start at the hairline and behind the ears, spreading over the face and then down the body. The rash isn’t itchy.
If you suspect that you or your child may have measles, it is critical that you notify your health centre and avoid crowds and public spaces to stop the spread of measles.