Muscat: Oman launched the second phase of its National Measles Immunisation Campaign on Sunday.
The drive, targeting people between 20 to 35 years of age, is being carried out by Ministry of Health in association with other authorities concerned.
The campaign will run until September 16 and will cover all governorates except Dhofar and Al Wusta which have already been covered in the first phase conducted in May.
The second phase officially commenced in the Governorate of Muscat, North Al Khuwair Health Centre under the auspices of Sayyid Saud bin Hilal Al Busaidi, Minister of the State and the Governor of Muscat, in the presence of Dr. Ahmed Mohammed Al Saidi, Minister of Health, in addition to a number of health officials and workers, as well as representatives from different media. The campaign was also launched in the rest of the targeted governorates under the patronage of the respective Governors with the attendance of MoH Undersecretaries.
Accordingly, authorised public and private health institutions affiliated with MoH and other non-MoH institutions, such as military and security authorities, the Diwan of Royal Court and the Sultan Qaboos University Hospital, in addition to a number of private sector health establishments have started receiving citizens and residents within the targeted age group to be given the free-measles vaccine.
The measles virus is highly contagious and it spreads from an infected person four days prior to the onset of the rash to four days after the rash erupts via coughing and sneezing, through close personal contact or direct contact with infected nasal or throat secretions. The virus remains active and contagious in the air or on infected surfaces for up to two hours. Unvaccinated young children are at the highest risk for measles and its complications, in addition to unvaccinated pregnant women and any person who is not immune to measles.
A person suffering from Measles develops fever, a runny nose, sore throat, and cough; in addition, a widespread skin rash is a classic sign of measles.
Measles can lead to life-threatening complications, such as pneumonia and inflammation of the brain (encephalitis); other complications associated with measles may include an ear infection, bronchitis, miscarriage or pre-term labour, and severe diarrhoea.
The measles vaccine has been in use for over half a century. It is safe, effective and inexpensive. It is often incorporated with the Rubella and Mumps vaccines as (MMR). Routine Measles vaccination is recommended to prevent the Measles disease, MMR doses are given at 12 months and 18 months of age to all children in Oman. During the Immunisation campaigns, one dose is given to each adult via an under skin injection in the arm.
During the national campaign, the vaccine will be made available free for citizens and residents at the governorates’ health institutions from 7:30 am to 9:00 pm. Moreover, each governorate will set up vaccination sites as announced. As for those studying abroad, they should take the vaccine from the health centres before travelling or as soon as they retune home. Patients with kidney failures undergoing regular dialysis can safely take the vaccine.
People suffering from temporary or chronic health issues related to platelets need to refer to a specialised physician to follow up their condition and determine the appropriate time for taking the vaccine.
Those who wish to donate blood should donate before taking the vaccine or postpone it for 30 days after vaccination.
The Measles vaccine is not recommended (contraindicated) for persons with congenital immunodeficiency, HIV infection, leukaemia, lymphoma or generalised malignancy or those who are currently receiving alkylating agents, antimetabolites, radiation or large doses of corticosteroids, in addition to pregnant women.
Furthermore, pregnant women should not take the measles vaccine and should receive it right after giving birth. It is safe to take the vaccine while breastfeeding. Women of the targeted age group should avoid conceiving for at least four weeks after having MMR vaccination. It is recommended to do a pregnancy test before getting vaccinated.
There is no evidence of rumours being circulated, such as the MMR vaccine causes infertility or labour problems. On the contrary, the vaccine protects a person from the Mumps disease, which can cause a complication such as infertility.
Ensuring the safety and health of community individuals, the MoH has called upon all citizens and residents in the age group of 20 to 35 (born between 1982 and 1997) to head to the nearest vaccination site in order to get vaccinated, free of cost, and as per scheduled dates.
The Ministry has further called upon all to take information from reliable sources at MoH or the MoH’s contact centre and pay no attention to rumours.