In one of the world’s biggest public health campaigns to date, nearly 100 million children across China will be vaccinated against measles on 11-20 September. The nationwide campaign will protect millions of children against the disease and bring China closer to reaching the measles elimination goal by 2012, said a press release from the WHO in China .
Many parents have been making inquiries about this new campaign. Dr Richard Saint Cyr from My Health Beijing website said, “Firstly, people should understand that there is no crisis of a sudden measles outbreak; this is simply a national campaign to wipe out measles, hopefully for good”.
“In general, expat children who have had their routine vaccines would not need this extra measles vaccine, although in theory there is no immune system harm in getting a further shot. In the U.S., it is routine to get measles in the combined MMR vaccine at 12 months, and then get a booster at age 4-6 years. Those of you on this schedule would not need extra shots now”, said Dr Cyr.
The problem is that China’s vaccination levels are good but not quite high enough to provide “herd immunity” to protect everyone. So, many children in China are still getting measles. According to the WHO, in 2009, more than 52,000 people in China were reported to have contracted measles.
The WHO also pointed out that measles is a highly contagious viral disease that affects both children and young adults. While most individuals recover from measles infection, some may suffer serious complications. It is a leading cause of avoidable death and disability among children in developing countries. Globally, an estimated 164,000 people died from measles in 2008.