New vaccination drive aims to protect Laos children from measles and rubella

A Lao nurse injecting a vaccine into a baby. - Laotian Times

VIENTIANE (Laotian Times/ANN): The Lao Ministry of Health is launching a vaccination campaign against rubella and measles, from 20 to 31 May. The project aims to promote the importance of vaccination to the saving lives of children, especially those under 5 years of age.

The campaign will be available at dispensaries, district and provincial hospitals, and other designated facilities across the country, according to Saychanh Patthammavong, Deputy Head of National Vaccination Section, Mother and Child Health Centre, Department of Sanitation and Health Promotion.

Saychanh emphasized that all vaccines have been approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO), ensuring their safety and effectiveness in safeguarding children against severe illnesses and life-threatening diseases.

The initiative came after Laos received over 650,000 doses of measles and rubella (MR) vaccine to help protect against and prevent the spread of the two illnesses, as part of Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI)’s support to the country’s routine immunization efforts back in February.

According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the assistance acted as a preventive method to the potential spread in Laos as there has been a global jump in such diseases.

Currently, there are measles cases in many countries, including Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, the United States and several European countries.

UN reports suggested that Laos should “act fast” while the opportunity is present as many people in the country are not immunized against measles and that a single case of the virus could mark the beginning of a large-scale outbreak in the country

Over the past decade, measles and rubella cases have significantly decreased in the region due to the widespread administration of vaccines to millions of babies and young children.

According to WHO statistics, Laos has made substantial progress in reducing measles cases, with confirmed cases dropping from 112 in 2014 to 8 in 2016, and only 3 cases reported so far in 2017.

Rubella and measles are highly contagious diseases as infected persons will risk death or experience other life-long complications if they do not receive prompt treatment.

It remains an important cause of death among young children globally, despite the availability of a safe and effective vaccine.

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