China to vaccinate children nationwide against measles

08:24, July 30, 2010      

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China is to provide measles vaccine jabs for hundreds of millions of children nationwide this September in a bid to eliminate the disease, a leading cause of death among young children, according to the Ministry of Health.

"This will be a key battle in our war against measles," minister Chen Zhu said here Thursday at a meeting on eliminating measles and malaria, adding that currently all vaccines needed were in stock.

The upcoming vaccination, scheduled from September 11 to 20, will focus on children aged between 8 months to 4 years.

However, those to receive the vaccines will be expanded to 14-year-olds and younger in populous regions such as Beijing, Heilongjiang, Shanghai, Henan, Guangxi. In Jilin, Hainan and Qinghai, children as old as 6 years will also be vaccinated.

Chen noted that the current measles control areas in various regions were diverse, and it was quite difficult to provide vaccines for special groups such as migrant workers.

The Chinese government allocated 157 million yuan (23 million U.S. dollars) from the central financial budget for the vaccinations.

According to the ministry, China aims to reduce the incidence rate of measles below one in a million by the end of 2012.

Figures from the ministry show that a total of 52,000 measles cases were registered nationwide in 2009, down 60.1 percent from the 131,000 cases in 2008.

The incidence rate in 2009 was 39 in a million.

Chen urged various local health departments to closely monitor any adverse effects caused by the vaccinations.

Since 2004, children in 27 regions across the country have been vaccinated against measles, with an average vaccination rate above 97 percent.

This campaign aims to cover children not vaccinated yet and those children whose first injection didn't fully protect them against the disease.

Also at the meeting, the ministry said a full-scale anti-malaria campaign would be launched this year as the country strived to reach the goal of eliminating malaria by 2020.

The country reported 14,140 cases of malaria last year, down 46.6 percent year on year. Among these cases, ten were fatal.

Source: Xinhua


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