“Plans for a mass measles vaccination campaign for ALL children 6 months to 59 months (almost 5 years old) has been finalized with the government now working on its funding aspect ahead of July 2023, when the roll out will commence as per the plan”.
This was conveyed by Dr Nemia Bainivalu, Deputy Secretary Health Improvement (DSHI), Ministry of Health at the weekly Prime Minister’s Office press conference held Friday last week.
The media had posed a question on status of measles vaccine coverage in light of measles cases reported in American Samoa.
Dr Bainivalu in his response said that there are at least 2 cases of measles which are tested and confirmed as positive for measles virus in laboratory. The first case is a 8 year old girl and a four year old boy who are going to a same school. Testing of suspected cases is ongoing and the number of cases is expected to increase.
Pertaining to the country’s measles vaccination coverage, Dr Bainivalu highlighted that following the COVID-19 pandemic measles immunization coverage had decreased and the Ministry had conducted a catch up vaccination campaign second quarter of 2022 which has increased the coverage of measles significantly.
“However, there are many children below the age of 5 years who have not received two doses of measles vaccine. These two doses measles vaccines are needed for protection as the risk of importation related outbreaks still remains high”,
“At the moment we are working to commence procurement of these vaccines that will be needed for the campaign as around 74,972 of our children, based on the 2023 population projection will need to be reached in this campaign”, said Dr Nemia.
He said such an undertaking to immunise a large number of children in a short period of time needs commitment and support from all levels of our society in order to protect our vulnerable population (6months old babies to 59 months children)
The Ministry of Health will be sending out information with regards to the upcoming national MR SIA (Measles Rubella Supplementary Immunisation Activity with Vitamin A) campaign in the coming weeks and please take note of those information which will be sent.
Support from parents, guidance from all community leaders both in the communities and churches and your support will all be needed when our health teams are visiting your communities to vaccinate our target group.
Measles is a highly infectious disease, caused by a paramyxovirus, and it typically spreads through direct contact and the air.
It is a life-threatening disease and fortunately we now have vaccines to prevent more than 20 life-threatening diseases, helping people of all ages live longer, healthier lives. Immunization currently prevents 3.5-5 million deaths every year from diseases like diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, influenza, and measles.
The large-scale measles outbreak in Solomon Islands in 2014 and the measles outbreak in 2019 in our neighbouring PICs like Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Kiribati, and American Samoa. Since Solomon Islands conducted the campaign in 2019 which I had mentioned before, it protected our children and everyone.