Measles cases triple this year; children should be vaccinated without delay: MOH

The Ministry of Health has urged parents to get their children vaccinated against measles following a surge in cases.
The Ministry of Health has urged parents to get their children vaccinated against measles following a surge in cases.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE -The number of cases of measles in Singapore has nearly tripled this year, compared with the same period last year, said the Ministry of Health (MOH), which urged parents to get their children vaccinated against the infectious disease.

As of May 21, 50 cases of measles have been reported, 33 more than the 17 cases reported in the same period last year, MOH said in a statement on Thursday (May 26).

Of them, 40 were local cases. Of the local cases, 34 were children.

Half of the 34 were babies under the age of one, who were not due for the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination.

Fourteen children were between one and six years, and had missed their MMR vaccination. Three were one year old, and had received only one dose of MMR vaccination.

In Singapore, measles vaccination for children is mandated under the Infectious Diseases Act.

As measles is one of the most infectious diseases, the ministry has reminded parents to get their children vaccinated, if they have not done so.

It is spread through air droplets and direct contact with nasal and throat secretions.

Symptoms include fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat and rashes. A patient can be infectious even before the onset of symptoms.

Vaccination is the best preventive measure against measles, said MOH.

The first dose of the MMR vaccination should be given at 12 months and the second dose at 15 to 18 months.

"It is important to ensure that their young children receive two doses of the MMR vaccination on time," MOH said.

It added that pre-school children who have missed one or both doses of measles vaccination should be vaccinated without delay.

Those who were previously vaccinated with only one dose of MMR should receive a second dose of MMR as catch-up vaccination.

Other members in the family who have not been vaccinated against measles are advised to do so, especially if there is a baby being cared for at home.

The National Immunisation Registry at the Health Promotion Board routinely sends out reminder letters to all children aged two who have not had their measles vaccinations.

The School Health Services also provide MMR vaccine to Primary One students who did not receive the second dose in their pre-school years.

The MMR vaccination is available at polyclinics, private general practitioner clinics and private paediatric clinics.

It is fully subsidised for Singapore children at polyclinics and Medisave can also be used at the private general practitioner and private paediatric clinics.

Correction note: An earlier version of this article said that the MMR vaccination was fully subsidised for Singapore citizens. This is incorrect. It is only fully subsidised for Singapore children.