The number of measles cases 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 last Saturday, 50 cases of measles have been reported, 33 more than the 17 reported in the same period last year, the ministry said yesterday.
The local cases included 34 children, half of whom were babies under the age of one, who were not due for the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination. Fourteen children were aged between one and six, and had missed their MMR vaccination. Three were one year old and had received only one dose of the 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.
The disease 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 the MOH. The first dose of the MMR vaccination should be given at 12 months of age, and the second dose at 15 to 18 months.
"It is important to ensure that young children receive two doses of the MMR vaccination on time," the MOH said.
It added that pre-school children who have missed one or both doses of the measles vaccination should be vaccinated without delay.
Those who were previously vaccinated with only one dose of MMR should receive a second dose as a catch-up vaccination.
Family members not vaccinated against measles are advised to be vaccinated, especially if there is a baby being cared for at home. The vaccine can have side effects, including fever.
Children infected by the measles virus can develop complications such as diarrhoea and vomiting, and may even need to be hospitalised in rare cases.
The School Health Services provide the MMR vaccine to Primary 1 pupils 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 private general practitioner and private paediatric clinics.
Correction note: An earlier version of this article stated that the MMR vaccination was fully subsidised for Singapore citizens. This is incorrect. It is only fully subsidised for Singapore children