Nearly 90 percent of measles cases related to lack of vaccination hinh anh 1Illustrative image (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – Nearly 90 percent of measles cases reported in Vietnam can be traced to people who were either not vaccinated against the highly contagious virus, received no full vaccinations or had unknown vaccination status.

According to the Ministry of Health, since early February, measles cases have been recorded in 43 cities and provinces nationwide, largely in the southern region, with 664 patients.

The ministry said the disease would spread if no drastic countermeasures are taken.

All 24 districts in Ho Chi Minh City have reported measles cases, with the majority in Binh Thanh, Thu Duc and Binh Chanh districts and District 7.

The city’s Preventive Medicine Department said 987 local children were hospitalised for measles treatment between January 1 and February 10, 2019. Up to 95 percent of them were not vaccinated.

Meanwhile, 53 measles cases have been found in the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak since the first case was discovered in January 14, with most of them in unplanned residential and remote areas.

Hanoi has recorded 114 cases of measles since the start of 2019, a sharp increase compared with the same period last year when only eight cases were reported, the municipal Health Department said. 

Of the figure, 89.1 percent of patients had not been vaccinated or did not have full vaccinations.

Director of the city’s Disease Control Centre Nguyen Nhat Cam said measles was a highly infectious respiratory disease and often infected children under five years old or adults who were not vaccinated. Symptoms include fever, coughing, runny nose, inflamed eyes and red, flat rashes on the skin. It can spread very fast, particularly in crowded places.

The municipal Department of Health last year decided to run an additional measles-rubella vaccination campaign for children aged between 1 and 5. The campaign, starting last November, vaccinated 574,191 out of 607,023 targeted children.

The department warned that people should be more active in getting vaccinations. Many parents have delayed vaccinating their children over worries about side effects.

The first shot against measles is supposed to take place at nine months old and the second at 18 months old, according to the Ministry of Health’s national immunisation guidelines. 

Tran Dac Phu, head of the Health Ministry’s Preventive Medicine Department, said many children in both remote and urban areas have not been vaccinated adequately, resulting in measures outbreaks in the community.

Therefore, in late 2018, the ministry launched an additional measles-rubella vaccination campaign for 4.2 million children aged between 1 and 5 in vulnerable areas in 57 cities and provinces, he said.

Luong Ngoc Khue, head of the Health Ministry’s Medical Examination and Treatment Department, urged hospitals to stepped up communication work to raise public awareness of the disease. -VNA