Around 23 million children aged between 1 – 14 are supposed to receive free measles and rubella vaccines in Vietnam between now and May, a health official said Monday.
Doctor Nguyen Tran Hien, the director of the National Immunization project, told Thanh Nien newspaper that the 9-month program is the biggest of its kind.
Vietnam's previous subsidized immunization projects only involved newborns and infants at 18 months.
The vaccines used in the project, aided by the Gavi Vaccine Alliance and the United Nations Children's Emergency Fund, are worth over US$36 million, according to Hien.
The manufacturer of the project's 600,000 doses has supplied medicine to similar campaigns in 39 countries around the world.
Hien also added that the measles and rubella vaccination, supplied by the project, was compulsory for every child in the country under 15 years of age.
Ho Chi Minh City health authorities have reported over 600 children hospitalized with measles this year -- a figure that does not include outpatients.
One of the leading pediatric facilities in the city, the Children’s Hospital No.1, treats more than 50 patients at a time; many of whom require respirators after developing pneumonia.
Tran Dac Phu, head of the Health Ministry’s Preventive Health Department, said the disease has been reported in 50 cities and provinces.
Measles, or English measles, is an infection of the respiratory system, immune system and skin caused by a virus, specifically a paramyxovirus of the genus Morbillivirus.
Complications from measles are relatively common, ranging from mild cases of diarrhea to acute pneumonia or encephalitis.