In response to the increased threat of measles in the Pacific, with outbreaks currently in New Zealand, Samoa, Tonga, Fiji and Australia, the Ministry of Health is taking extra precautions to reduce the risk for Vanuatu.
The Ministry of Health and its partners, World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have implemented a range of preparedness activities under the guidance and coordination of the Measles National Task Force established in October 2019.
The Ministry of Health will be providing free measles vaccination to all children aged 6 months to 15 years.
This group is prioritized because young babies and children are most at risk of suffering serious complications from measles, like blindness, deafness and death.
Other activities include vaccinating priority age groups who are most at risk of serious complications from measles as well as strengthening awareness of all Ni-Vanuatu and people living in Vanuatu about measles and the need to stay alert for signs and symptoms.
The ministry is also enhancing all systems for alerting and detecting potential measles cases is they are imported.
Given the higher risk of importation as international point of entry by air and sea, interventions have been prioritised in Port Vila and on Efate island.
The Ministry of Health is planning additional preparedness activities in the provinces and islands with Luganville, Santo, and Lenakel, Tanna as a priority and then remaining provinces.