Earlier measles vaccination for kids

PHOTO: Earlier measles vaccination for kids

From tomorrow, children will be vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) at an earlier age, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said yesterday. And medical experts said this is because of a rise in measles-infection cases here.

Instead of getting the first dose of the vaccine between 12 and 24 months old, kids will be getting it at 12 months of age. The second dose will be brought forward, from between six and seven years of age, to between 15 and 18 months of age.

An MOH spokesman told my paper that the new recommendation came about because, in the past few years, a number of unvaccinated children aged between 12 and 15 months had come down with measles.

There were two such cases in 2009, 12 last year and 16 in the first 10 months of this year alone, according to MOH figures.

The total number of measles-infection cases in Singapore from the beginning of the year until Nov 19 hit 109, a jump of more than two times, compared to the 45 cases over the same 46-week period last year.

An MOH report last year said the incidence of MMR remained "low".

The MOH said yesterday that providing the two doses with a shorter interval in between will also ensure that "almost all vaccinated children are sufficiently protected against measles earlier in their lives".

Associate Professor Chong Chia Yin, who heads KK Women's and Children's Hospital's paediatrics department, said measles usually affects children and that complications include severe measles pneumonia and brain infection. Deaths have also been reported in cases of measles outbreaks.

For parents whose kids have been given the first dose of the MMR vaccine, the MOH recommends that they wait at least three months before taking their children for the second dose.

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