Govt plans mass measles vaccination following outbreak

THE government has come up with a number of interventions including working on strengthening surveillance and routine vaccination activities as well as the planning for a mass measles vaccination following the disease outbreak in seven councils.

Minister for Health, Ms Ummy Mwalimu told the media here on Thursday that the interventions are in response to outbreak, where some 54 patients have been recorded between July and August after testing positive at the National Public Health Laboratory (NPHL).

The patients whose samples tested positive for measles were from the councils of Bukoba, Handeni, Kilindi, Mkuranga, Kigamboni, Temeke and Ilala.

“Of the 54 measles patients, 48 were aged between 15 years and below and the remaining number was above 15-years,” said Ms Mwalimu.

The health minister said the government has embarked on measles awareness after the symptoms and as prevention measures in the health facilities for timely medication to avert the post effects.

The minister mentioned some of the symptoms as fever rash illness, high fever, cough, runny nose, and watery eyes, thus calling the public with any of the signs to report to health centres for diagnosis.

Moreover, she said, the ministry has dispatched a team of experts in areas with a big number of patients for surveillance.

On top of that the ministry is also making follow up of the people who have been in contact with the patients through the integrated disease surveillance system, to see if they bear any of the symptoms.

She said the government is now working on routine vaccination of the diseases, saying through the Covid-19 period such services were not available as required.

Ms Mwalimu said the evaluation of the vaccination services conducted through the past three years starting 2019; show the drop especially to children under five years.

“Since July 2019 up to July 2021, the evaluation shows that 400,000 under five children did not get the required routine vaccinations, but there is greater number of those who did not complete the dose” said Ms Mwalimu.

She mentioned the regions with a great number of under five children with zero doses as Kigoma, Kagera, Mara, Songwe, Manyara and Mbeya, while those with partial vaccination are Tabora, Dar es Salaam, Arusha, Geita, Rukwa, Shinyanga, Coast, Singida, Ruvuma, Dodoma, Morogoro, Lindi, Mtwara, Katavi and Iringa.

In a related development, Minister Ummy directed the Regional and District Medical officers countrywide to strengthen the administering of the vaccination services especially to children under five, as they are currently available.

Also, they are supposed to ensure all under-five years old children get vitamin A drops when they go for their routine clinics.

As for those who have skipped the vaccination routine, they have been advised to go to the clinics so that they get the measles vaccination.

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