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Health News Tue, 24 Jan 2012

GHS/MOH to begin second dose measles vaccination from February 1

Accra, Jan. 24, GNA - The Ghana Health Service (GHS) and the Ministry of Health will from February 1, begin a second dose measles vaccination for children of 18 to 30 months to offer them better protection and maintain reduction in the incidence of death.

The introduction, which would be integrated into the routine schedule of child immunisation, is also aimed at achieving the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 4, which is to address infant mortality.

Briefing the media in Accra on Tuesday, Dr Kwadwo Antwi-Agyei, Programme Manager of the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) said though Ghana had been successful in achieving high routine measles coverage of over 85 per cent with zero deaths recorded for the past nine years, the current measles vaccination schedule allowed susceptibility to piled up every four years, hence, the need for the second dose.

He explained that measles was a highly infectious viral disease which had humans as the only reservoir. It has no cure and transmission is primarily from person to person via aerosol via droplets with an average incubation period of 10-12 days.

Complications of Measles could lead to death, lifelong disability, blindness, brain damage, pneumonia, malnutrition and deafness.

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Dr Antwi-Agyei noted that measles control had contributed to the reduction of under- five mortality from 111 per 1000 live births in 2008 and had given hope that the MDG 4 may be achieved in 2015.

“But with the second dose, the older the person, the better the immunogenicity or protection of the child,” he added.

He entreated mothers, and care-givers to send their children of 18 months and above to any child welfare clinic for the second dose, which would be given in addition to Vitamin A and an insecticide treated bed net, adding, “for effective monitoring, children should be sent to the clinic every six months afterwards for Vitamin A and weighing”.

Mr Joseph Yieleh Chiereh Minister of Health who presided over the occasion urged mothers not to argue that their children had taken the measles vaccine and therefore would not be part of the second dose exercise, saying, "it is for the best interest of the children who will be the future leaders of the our dear country".

Source: GNA