A nationwide campaign to vaccinate children against measles starts in Ukraine - Ihor Kuzin
As part of the campaign, on the eve of the new school year, doctors, and mobile vaccination teams will vaccinate children who have missed vaccination due to war or other circumstances. To this end, regional campaign plans have been developed and adopted, regional coordinators have been identified. Health care facilities, vaccination centers, and mobile vaccination teams have been involved in the “cleaning round” of immunization, which will conduct field sessions in camps and remote locations in the oblasts.
“At the level of the country’s oblasts, children who have missed one or two vaccinations will be vaccinated against measles. Special attention will be paid to children who have moved to other oblasts: they will be able to get vaccinated and check their vaccination status at hospitals or vaccination centers. In 2022, only 69% of children aged 6 received the mandatory measles vaccination, according to the national vaccination schedule. To prevent an outbreak of measles, these vaccinations must be caught up and children must be vaccinated. In total, more than 260,000 vaccinations are planned as part of the campaign, not including routine vaccinations,” said Deputy Minister, Chief State Sanitary Doctor Ihor Kuzin.
The measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine has been delivered to every region. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) delivered 657 thousand doses of the combined MMR vaccine to Ukraine to support the National Immunization Program.
“There is no cure for measles, but there is an effective way to prevent this disease – you can protect yourself and your children through vaccination. If your child has missed a routine vaccination, it is important to catch up. UNICEF has delivered the necessary vaccines to Ukraine,” said Muhammad Tariq Iqbal, UNICEF Immunization Specialist.
The main reason for measles' outbreaks is the low coverage of children with preventive measles vaccinations in previous years. For collective immunity, 95% of the population must be immune to this disease. And this is best achieved through vaccination. After all, the disease often has a severe course, with the development of complications. A high level of vaccination coverage should be achieved among children first and foremost.
“Access to quality vaccination services and timely immunization are key to preventing measles outbreaks. WHO and partners are working to make vaccines available to all. Since the russian federation’s invasion of Ukraine and the outbreak of full-scale war, we have been supporting the government in providing immunization services, focusing on vulnerable populations such as internally displaced persons and people living in remote rural areas, as well as conducting nationwide education and information campaigns and training for healthcare workers. The 59 buses that we handed over to the Ministry of Health are already being actively used by mobile medical teams to work in remote rural areas and provide vaccinations against measles, COVID-19, tetanus and diphtheria,” said WHO Representative in Ukraine Dr. Jarno Habicht.
Measles is a dangerous disease that poses a threat to unvaccinated children and adults. It is transmitted by airborne droplets and is extremely contagious. Out of 10 unvaccinated people who come into contact with a sick person, 9 will get sick. There is no specific medicine against measles. The only protection against the disease is timely vaccination.
Children should receive two vaccinations with the MMR vaccine: at age 1 and at age 6. If a child has missed a scheduled vaccination, they should catch up as soon as possible.
Children over 6 years of age who have not received any MMR vaccination are recommended to receive two doses of the vaccine with an interval of at least 1 month between them.
Children with bronchial asthma, diabetes, cystic fibrosis, cancer, cardiovascular or other chronic diseases need vaccinations first and foremost, because such children are more vulnerable to infections, the course of the disease is usually more severe, and complications are more serious.