Vietnam starts giving free measles-rubella vaccination to 23 million children

The Vietnam Ministry of Health is vaccinating measles-rubella to 23 million children aged 1 to 14 from September, 2014 to February, 2015 nationwide in a mass free-of-charge vaccination campaign, the largest ever of its kind in Vietnam. Professor Dr. Nguyen Tran Hien, chairman of the National Extended Immunization Program, said at the opening campaign.

Medical workers are administering vaccine shots to children (Photo: SGGP)

Professor Tran Dac Phu, head of the Ministry's Preventive Medicine Department, said that gratis mass vaccination campaign will be carried out in three stages.

In the first stage, the drive will kick off in September and October, 2014 for infants from one to five years old. The second stage will take place in November and December, 2014 for children from six to ten aged and the third will be in January and February, 2015 for children from eleven to fourteen.

The campaign that is funded by the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, a public-private global health partnership, and UNICEF worth US$36 million will be generated in local medical clinics and schools.

The mass vaccination drive is funded by The Indian-made vaccine for the mass campaign was tested by the World Health Organization and the Ministry of Health.

The Ministry has asked the National Extended Immunization Program to put safety on the top priority. Accordingly, two trained medical workers are administered the vaccine.

There will be inspection teams to immunization spots to check vaccination and vaccine preservation procedures, said Dr. Phu. In addition, the Ministry has ordered medical workers that have to give careful examination to children's health condition, not just rely on children’s statement.

Diseased children or infants with chronic heart diseases should not be given vaccine.

Many clinical trials assess the effects of vaccine showed that nearly 5 percent of children had post-vaccine reaction including soreness, fever or swelling.

Professor Hien said that measles and rubella can not be treated and vaccine is one of effective way to prevent the diseases.

Though it is a benign disease, measles can cause serious complications that may lead to death, a health expert has warned. It can spread rapidly and 90 percent of children who have contact with measles-suffering peers may catch the measles virus.

Rubella is an acute, contagious viral infection. While the illness is generally mild in children, it has serious consequences in pregnant women causing fetal death or congenital defects known as congenital rubella syndrome (CRS).

Children with CRS can suffer hearing impairments, eye and heart defects and other lifelong disabilities, including autism, diabetes mellitus and thyroid dysfunction.

By Khanh Nguyen - Translated by Uyen Phuong

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