China to Vaccinate 100 Million Children Against Measles

11/9/2010 - China is embarking on a 10-day campaign to vaccinate 95% of its children against measles.

China’s Ministry of Health has embarked on a ten day campaign to vaccinate the nation’s children against measles. Approximately 100 million children will be vaccinated in this US$23 million campaign.

Measles is a very contagious viral disease that disproportionately affects children. Droplets from the nasal passages or throat of an infected person that make their way to another person can spread the measles virus. The symptoms of measles include fever, runny nose, bloodshot eyes, and small white spots on the inside of the mouth. While most people recover over the course of two or three weeks, for malnourished children with diminished immunity it can be fatal. Measles can cause pneumonia, diarrhoea, blindness and further infections.

The vaccination campaign will target children s aged eight months to fourteen years old, giving children who were missed in previous campaigns a chance to be vaccinated and fully protected against measles. It is important that children get the second booster shot for the disease.

hinese research showed that 5-10% of children vaccinated only once still contract measles.
Wang Yu, of the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, stressed that parents are not obligated to have their children vaccinated. “The vaccination is free and will not be conducted unless the parents are well informed and give consent,” said Wang.

Still, vaccination remains a pressing public health issue – one considered a priority for child health by organizations such as UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO).  In 2008, 46% of the world’ paediatric measles cases were detected in China. That’s 131,000 children. Only a year later, China had made immense progress through regular vaccination programs that cut the number of measles cases to 52,000. In the first half of this year, measles infections were down just over 25%.

Government officials are urging parents to allow their children to be vaccinated, though fears and suspicion about vaccines remain prevalent among the Chinese public. By the end of the campaign, China hopes that it will have vaccinated 95% of the country’s children against the disease.

By 2012, China hopes to reduce the rate of measles infection to one in a million from the current 39 in a million.