National vaccination campaign against measles and German measles in Seychelles |30 October 2019
The Ministry of Health has embarked on a national campaign to vaccinate people living and working in Seychelles against measles and German measles.
The campaign started with the vaccination in October of all health care workers in Seychelles. This exercise will be followed by vaccination of the general population in early 2020.
The aim of this procedure is to achieve and maintain high levels of population immunity to ensure elimination of indigenous transmission of measles, and German measles among the general population in Seychelles.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) measle cases have continued to increase in 2019. Preliminary global data shows that reported cases rose by 300 percent in the first three months of 2019, compared to the same period in 2018. This follows consecutive increases over the past two years.
Many countries are in the midst of sizeable measles outbreaks, with all regions of the world experiencing sustained rises in cases. Current outbreaks include the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Mauritius, Myanmar, Philippines, Sudan, Thailand and Ukraine, causing many deaths – mostly among young children.
Following these recent outbreaks, WHO recommends all countries to strengthen their health services and increase vaccine coverage, namely through vaccination campaigns.
Measles is a highly infectious viral disease caused by a Morbillivirus. It only affects humans and rapidly spreads among individuals who have not been vaccinated. It is also the leading cause of vaccine-preventable deaths among children worldwide.
The first recorded outbreak of measles in Seychelles was in 1967. This was followed by other outbreaks in 1982 to 1983. In 1989, a combination of measles mumps and rubella vaccine was introduced to all children at fifteen months of age. In the third quarter of 1997, yet another outbreak of measles occurred throughout the island of Mahé with over 600 cases reported.
Rubella, also called German measles or the three-day measles, is a contagious viral infection best known by its distinctive red rash. Rubella is not the same as measles (rubeola), though the two illnesses do share some characteristics, including the red rash. However, rubella is caused by a different virus than measles, and is neither as infectious nor usually as severe as measles. Contracting Rubella especially during the first three months of pregnancy, can cause death or serious birth defects in the developing foetus.
Overall an estimated number of 3600 health care workers as the primary targets have been vaccinated. The campaign will target all individuals born before 1988. They will be vaccinated with measles and rubella vaccines. This is because these types of antigens were introduced to children in 1989 through the Seychelles National Childhood Immunisation Programme.