Making news

Vaccination urged as measles spreads fast in Hanoi

An unexpected spike in the number of children catching measles in Hanoi this summer has left doctors worrying about a potential outbreak, given that 90 percent of the infected children reportedly had yet to receive a vaccination.

Pham Thi Lanh from Bac Tu Liem district has spent the last few days in E Hospital, taking care of her nine-month-old baby, who is being treated for measles.

She was supposed to take him to receive a vaccination 15 days ago as the doctors recommended, but a fever coming along with the baby’s first tooth delayed the plan.

Shortly after that, he fell seriously sick and was diagnosed with measles, she told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.

Lanh’s son was one of hundreds of babies and children hospitalised due to measles in the capital since May, who caught the disease after not getting a vaccination.

A report by the Hanoi Centre for Preventive Medicine showed that there were 233 measles cases recorded as of July 10, tripling the number of infections last year. The disease was detected across the whole city with patients coming from all 29 districts, though the density was higher in urban areas. No deaths have been reported so far.

The centre’s director Nguyen Nhat Cam said that the infected were disproportionately children under five, of which infants under 1 year old were the largest group.

Doctor Do Thien Hai, Deputy Director of the National Hospital of Paediatrics’ Department of Infectious Diseases, said that the measles vaccination rate in Vietnam currently stands at 95 percent, meaning that 5 percent are still unvaccinated every year.

“When the numbers [of unvaccinated children] accumulate enough, it is very easy for a measles outbreak to start,” he said.

“If the children fall sick during the scheduled time for vaccination, parents shouldn’t completely delay it but try to pick another time a little bit later for the vaccination.”

News of the increase in measles cases in Hanoi, meanwhile, drove many parents in Ho Chi Minh City to have their toddlers vaccinated.

A 34-year-old mother in Phu Nhuan district said that her son was supposed to have the double vaccination against measles and rubella at 18 months old, but now he is already 3 and has yet to have the injection. Hearing about what was happening in Hanoi, she planned to get him vaccinated as soon as possible.

Another mother from Binh Thanh district also shared that she recently took her 23-month-old baby to the health centre to have the second vaccine injection for measles that she missed when he was 18 months old.

Measles is a highly contagious disease that can spread very fast and cause an outbreak. Measles is the leading cause of death in children and is particularly dangerous to children under three.