Measles outbreak spurs urgent vaccination efforts

vaccine dose flu shots along with syringe
(File photo: Jordan News)
AMMAN — The World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF have jointly issued a press release reporting 163 cases of measles across seven governorates in Jordan. This alarming situation, as of September 27, 2023, underscores a troubling decline in measles vaccination coverage within the country.اضافة اعلان

Since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jordan has witnessed a significant decrease in measles vaccination rates. Approximately 112,000 children under the age of five, constituting more than 60 percent of this age group, have missed their regular doses of measles-containing vaccines. Consequently, this drop in vaccination coverage has resulted in the outbreak of measles in seven governorates, totaling 163 cases, Ammon News, the Jordan News Agency, Petra reported.

Dr. Jamila Al-Raabi, the WHO representative in Jordan, emphasized the gravity of measles as a highly contagious and fatal disease. She stressed that measles can be effectively prevented through vaccination, emphasizing the need to achieve vaccination coverage rates of at least 95% with two doses of measles vaccines to establish community immunity and protect the population.

Philippe Duamelle, UNICEF's representative in Jordan, echoed the importance of vaccines in saving lives and eradicating diseases. Rebuilding herd immunity through routine vaccination and catch-up campaigns is crucial to safeguard children and prevent overwhelming the public health system during outbreaks.

The MR vaccine used in these efforts is sourced from the global market through the Indian Serum Institute (SII). In 2022, SII supplied nearly 236 million doses of measles-rubella (MR) vaccines worldwide, constituting approximately 80% of the total MR vaccine volume used globally. SII is one of just two companies prequalified by WHO to manufacture and distribute this vaccine, with 81 Member States worldwide employing the SII MR vaccine.

WHO's prequalification process ensures the safety and efficacy of the vaccine, with stringent criteria covering potency, thermostability, presentation, labeling, and shipping conditions, all subject to regular re-evaluation, site inspections, targeted testing, and investigation of any product complaints or adverse events following immunization.
WHO recommends the use of the measles-rubella vaccine for outbreak response immunization in countries where rubella vaccine is part of the routine immunization program.

Since 2021, UNICEF has procured over 436 million doses of measles-rubella vaccine, benefiting 57 countries globally.

In response to this imminent health threat, the Ministry of Health, with support from WHO and UNICEF, has devised a comprehensive measles outbreak response plan, including a crucial component of supplemental immunization activities involving the Measles-Rubella (MR) vaccine.

Both UN agencies have reaffirmed their unwavering commitment to the Ministry of Health, aiming to support shared goals such as strengthening the primary healthcare system, equipping healthcare workers with the necessary resources and support, and delivering life-saving vaccines to children.

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